Depeche Mode
Spirit


3.5
great

Review

by Kaleid USER (44 Reviews)
March 17th, 2017 | 6 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Destruction Time Again.

It's 2017, and Depeche Mode seem to be a little pissed off. Not an emotion usually associated with the band that adorned the bedroom walls of depressed goths in 1987, anger has nevertheless been present before, albeit in a hopeless, self-loathing form. With Spirit, it seems to come to the fore as a type of righteous anger; the same guys that sang earnestly about a utopia on Construction Time Again, now collectively shaking their head in disbelief at the world. It would be wrong to call this a political album, however. Spirit is more about society at large, lamenting fake news, lynch mob mentalities and dehumanising technology. Killer opener 'Going Backwards' sets the tone, doom-laden piano hammering down on the verses as Gahan pronounces judgement: "We can track in all the satellites / Seeing all in plain sight / Watch men die in real time / But we have nothing inside / We feel nothing inside."

Pretty heavy stuff for the Mode, and potentially dangerous territory for any cynic who wants to accuse them of being preachy. Cleverly, Spirit avoids that with its lyrical focus on people rather than governments, which opens the door for such time-honoured Depeche themes as sex, pain and death, although religion is conspicuous by its absence. Gone are songs about angels, redemption and devotion, and in their place come bitter breakups ('Poison Heart') and hilarious musings on the merits of apocalyptic snogging ('Eternal'). Musically, James Ford has wisely created a vast sense of space for all the weighty subjects, especially noticeable on 'Cover Me', a track full of gorgeous synth washes and loungey, listless guitar. 'Poison Heart' (how did it take thirty-seven years for Depeche Mode to write a song with that title") sounds massively doleful, chugging along inexorably to a chorus with plenty of moaning, groaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth. 'Poorman' is a glimpse into a parallel universe where a poor man's Robert Johnson has access to a synthesiser, but the big surprise comes from 'Scum'. Their best rant since SOTU's 'Wrong', heavy distortion gives a bit of force to Gahan's hissing, spitting vocals.

Surprisingly, the true highlight of Spirit is the only overtly positive one, 'So Much Love'. Borrowing the driving rhythm of past classic 'A Question of Time', Gahan and Gore go full pelt, harmonising effortlessly over a life-affirming chorus that aims for 'gargantuan stadium song' and gets it dead centre with a gold-plated bullet. Perhaps that should have been the point for the majestic Gore-fronted closer 'Fail' to come in, because, for all the space in the production, Spirit does feel like it outstays its welcome by at least a couple of songs. 'No More (This Is The Last Time)', especially, feels like a b-side that crashed the party. The sheer world-weariness so essential to the general thrust of Spirit also drags the listener down rather too much. But by dropping out of their comfort zone lyrically, and expanding (if not exactly innovating) musically, Depeche Mode seem to be saying, "Here's the evolution". It's not dramatic, but for a thirty-seven-year-old band as consistently good as they are, we should take what we can get.



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user ratings (203)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
Raul Stanciu STAFF (4)
A painfully accurate record that portrays some of today's main political and social issues......

CaptainAaarrrggghhh (3)
Lamenting the loss of spirit in the world, Depeche Mode inadvertedly showcase the lack of one in the...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
March 17th 2017


31901 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

This is a good review and I generally agree. I may be the odd one out, but I love when bands get "preachy" even if I don't agree, because usually those albums have the strongest conviction. I kind of wish this would have been a straight up political record.



First 3 tracks are my favorites, followed closely by "Scum", "You Move", and "Fail"

Digging: Off With Their Heads - Be Good

Kaleid
March 17th 2017


741 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers. I think I know what you mean, but for a lot of people, it affects the way they listen to it, and potentially alienates them from the music, rightly or wrongly. I think DM know their strengths, and a 'social concern' flavour was a better choice than a manifesto, IMO.



Do you know, some fans are really having a go at them for this. The train of thought is: Poorman mentions corporations, and they signed to Columbia recently, ergo they're hypocrites.

Sabrutin
March 17th 2017


6271 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, pos'd. I'm probably going to give it the same rating. No masterpiece but I'm liking it more than expected, and thankfully it sounds darker than what I feared. The Eternal / Poisoned Heart / So Much Love trio is my highlight on first listen

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2017


4833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like 'No More', but the other Gahan penned songs here are definitely better. Also, I find this to be just right in length, Delta Machine was a bit too long.

Digging: Cloudkicker - Unending

fallenbird
March 18th 2017


4487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For some reason this feels like a 'good' version of what Muse were trying to attempt with Drones.

Flugmorph
March 18th 2017


21329 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is a 3.0 on first listen. not particulary impressed

Digging: Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind



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