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Review: Depeche Mode's 'Delta Machine' resurrects its '80s soul



One of our favorite correspondents, Bassnote from Chicago, is a diehard Depeche Mode fan. Here's his review of their new album, Delta Machine.

Up front I have to say, just so it is clear, I have been following Depeche Mode since 1984, but I have been less than thrilled by their last three or four releases. Having said that, I really like their latest release, Delta Machine. I was drawn toward buying the release even more after seeing Depeche Mode perform many of the songs live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre on line a few weeks ago.

In many ways Delta Machine resembles the album Songs of Faith and Devotion. It has much of the same religious imagery: saving your soul, losing your soul, the devil, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, sin and sinners, etc. Don’t allow this to turn you off. Remember, they have been using this imagery since the '80s. (Blasphemous Rumors anyone?) So, before you say, “I’ve heard this from them before,” give Delta Machine a listen.

Is the album a classic like Violator? No, but it has something that has been lacking on he last few releases; songs that stick with you after hearing them. Delta Machine is not perfect. There are a few songs I can live without (My Little Universe, Should Be Higher), and there is a fuzzy keyboard sound that permeates many of the songs that gets old very fast. However, Delta Machine contains some of the best songs DM has written in quite a while.

It opens with Welcome To My World. The programmed buzzes and drones sound a lot like the last album Sounds of the Universe, and does not bode well for the release. The chorus saves the song. When the strings kick in and Martin Gore and Dave Gahan start harmonizing, the song is taken to a higher level. DM goes bluesy on the next song Angel. Gahan sounds like he should be singing over a Robert Johnson riff instead of computerized whistles and percussion. Gore provides some nice under- stated guitar on the chorus. The songs Slow and Goodbye have a bluesy feel to them as well. Slow has a great blues guitar riff from Gore, and Gahan oozes passion in his vocal.

The first single off the release is the song Heaven. It is a slow-burner with some sweet harmonies on the chorus, but it is a little head scratching as to why it was chosen as the first single. A better choice would have been the driving Soft Touch/Raw Nerve. This song builds but never kicks into overdrive. Hopefully there will be a remix that fixes that problem.

Gore provides the vocal for the most haunting song, The Child Inside. It is probably his best vocal since A Question Of Lust. Is the song about the loss of innocents (“What have you got buried inside / The shallow grave in your soul), or is it about abortion (Body parts are starting to appear / and scare the child inside away)? It is a classic Martin Gore song that will not leave your head for a long time.

The best song, and second single, comes near the end -- Soothe My Soul. The song would have fit in on the Violato album. It is a pounding rocker with a scream-along chorus. Gore’s distorted guitar and vocal back-and-forth with Gahan make this one the most enjoyable songs DM has recorded in years.

Over all Delta Machine is a very satisfying release from Depeche Mode. If you are the downloading type, then download: Soothe’ My Soul, The Child Inside, Soft Touch/Raw Nerve, Broken and Slow. I would give the release a solid B+.

[Last modified: Monday, April 1, 2013 10:23am]


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