It would be an understatement to say that I have been unhappy with Depeche Mode's output in recent years. I really like "Playing the Angel" , but since the terrible "Sounds of the Universe" , it has been a downward spiral that crashed to an all-time low with the absolutely pathetic sound-turd "Spirit" .
J, a friend of mine, insisted that I had to listen to the new album "Memento Mori" several times, maybe even as many as 4 times, and then it would reveal its true quality self. I've got to admit, J was right. On the first "spin" (some poor quality streaming crap), I didn't think much of it. I decided to give it a real chance though and bought the CD, since there is no real point in buying the LP. The vinyl is one of them 3-sided things and they are just idiotic. Why not release it as a nice 45 RPM 4-sided 2LP instead?
Anyway, back to the music. It is a tough album to connect to. I don't know if it has anything to do with the death of band member Andrew Fletcher in 2022. To me, he was mostly known as the man who was always standing at the back of the stage reading his emails while the concert was happening in front of him. Well, maybe that wasn't the whole story, but what do I know?
Back to the new music, I said. The 2 remanining band members: Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, have actually managed to dig deep and they have created a new album that is worth listening to many times. The more times you listen to it, the more it spreads its dark wings of death. There are not any real hits on this album. There are however a few songs that stands out as near hits or as easier approachable songs.
- The album opens with the massive "My Cosmos Is Mine". It sounds 100% as Depeche Mode, but at their very darkest. Don't expect an easy entry here.
- "Ghosts Again" is a strong candidate for a hit. Heavy synths here and it sounds like a melody.
- "My Favourite Stranger" is another favorite of mine. It's a bit heavier and almost massive at times, but it has a fine song hidden within.
- "Caroline's Monkey" is a great junkie song and perhaps the easiest entry point on the album. It has a very "Depeche Mode" sound and the line "Fixing is better than healing - sometimes..." to think about.
- "Never Let Me Go" is really cool too. Synth guitar and a great pop-beat. Clearly a stand-out track.
- The album ends with "Speak to Me". A very minimalistic tune with sparse instrumentation. It is a strong way to end a very dark and very heavy album that certainly takes some work to get into.
If you decide to dive in deep enough, "Memento Mori" will reward you greatly. Easily the very best album Depeche Mode has released in the last 20 years.