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Depeche Mode - Delta Machine (Album Review)

Wednesday, 03 April 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh
Depeche Mode - Delta Machine (Album Review)

Since 1997’s 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion', electronic giants Depeche Mode have released a steady stream of studio albums every 4 years; 2013 sees the continuation of that trend with their 13th long player, 'Delta Machine'.

ImageIn early 2012, singer Dave Gahan revealed that multi-instrumentalist and chief songwriter Martin Gore had penned something in the region of 20 new demos, the majority of which we find here on this first offering since DM’s new recording deal signed with Columbia Records in December 2012.

Having amassed in excess of 100 million single and album sales worldwide, becoming in the process (according to Q magazine) the most popular electronic band ever, there is always a weight of expectation surrounding any new release from the Basildon trio – Andy Fletcher completing the current line-up.

Beginning with a minimal dub-bass effect and synth beat, 'Welcome To My World' ‘bleeds into your dreams’ in classic style; unquestionably new and fresh yet unequivocally DM with its dramatic lyrical presence and atmospheric keyboards, sounding as if it had been lifted from the soundtrack to the coolest movie ever. This theme continues with 'Angel' - futuristic noises adorning proceedings with Gahan’s strong, dirty vocal calling on all his previous experience to deliver another outstanding performance; an opening double that reap rewards upon multiple plays.

Beautiful lead single 'Heaven' sweeps into the arena next, slowing the pace considerably; this is an instantly accessible high point of the album with another terrific Gahan vocal performance being the centrepiece.

'Secret To The End' has glimpses of the famous sound the band cultivated over the years, keyboards dominating above minimal percussion that bursts into a foreboding bridge and then a repetitive ‘should have been you’ chorus. Incredibly this is another major player, culminating in more traditional keyboards albeit with a menacing feel about them.

'My Little Universe' utilises some weird computer-like noises recalling Kraftwerk, providing a threadbare background to Gahan’s tones, the track eventually taking an almost trance-like turn with a short rave aspect to finish.

The group had previously stated that the blues played a big part in the influences for this album, and this is most prevalent on 'Slow' – the song (all at a pace as the title suggests) being built around a bluesy guitar riff and sleazy synths, leaving you feeling as if you’ve been dragged into a den of ill-repute. 'Broken' returns proceedings back to a slightly more conventional DM sound, yet still appearing fresh - a darkness prevailing over the ominous track declaring that ‘you were broken from the start’.

Gore takes the lead vocal for 'The Child Inside' – with lyrics such as ‘body parts starting to appear’ and ‘I see a child is drowned’ this is downright scary and sounds as if it has been lifted directly from the latest Danny Elfman soundtrack to a creepy Tim Burton animation; the song seems out of place on the album, not just because of the vocal change but also because of the sparseness of the track.

'Soft Touch/Raw Nerve' returns the vocal baton to Gahan and the album is back on track with another ultra-cool effort, electric guitars occasionally joining ever-present synths to add an extra dimension. 'Should Be Higher' opens with swirling synth chords and a pulsing undercurrent before steady programmed drums kick in, furnished with a simple keyboard riff; another distinctly dark moment, ‘your lies are more attractive to the truth’ underlining deceit and foreboding.

The atmospheric 'Alone' follows, Gahan declaring ‘I couldn’t save your soul’ and ‘it’s too late for what should’ve been said long ago’, forming a resignation to the power of fate, perhaps.

'Soothe My Soul' is another highlight, bearing the hallmarks of a future classic DM single, again cloaked in a dark presence with ‘I’m coming for you when the sun goes down’ - the chorus being perhaps the catchiest moment of the entire overwhelmingly dark collection.

The fittingly titled ‘Goodbye’ closes the album with a classic blues riff being placed amongst the futuristic synth noises, melding together to form a refreshingly new ‘electro blues’ feel.

'Violator' remains the pinnacle of this extraordinary bands career and it is almost impossible to ever surpass such a masterpiece; 'Delta Machine' is undoubtedly up there with the best of the rest, although die-hard fans’ opinion is likely be mixed as there is something altogether new about this latest release that has only been hinted at in the past. This album proves beyond any doubt that when Depeche Mode get the balance right, they are still a major force to be reckoned with.

'Delta Machine' is available now. Depeche Mode perform at London's O2 Arena in May.

Depeche Mode UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue May 28th 2013 - O2 Arena, London
Wed May 29th 2013 - O2 Arena, London

Click Here to Compare & Buy Depeche Mode Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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