Depeche Mode
Memento Mori


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kaleid USER (46 Reviews)
March 24th, 2023 | 13 replies


Release Date: 03/17/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Remember: you must die. And you know, that's okay.

It was only after several months of writing an album of songs about death that they found out that one of their number had died. Andy 'Fletch' Fletcher tragically passed away just weeks before Depeche Mode were due to reconvene in the studio to put together the 15th album of their career. The songs, already dark yet oddly uplifting (that familiar Mode trait) took on a new force as the remaining core husk of the band forged ahead to complete an album that seemed doomed from the start. But it couldn't just be another Depeche Mode album. With James Ford and Marta Salogni as producers, and The Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler as a co-writer, the band received one of the biggest shake-ups in its history. Improbably, what has emerged is one of the strongest, most self-assured albums they've ever released.

"Remember: you must die" declares the title, and indeed the lyrics everywhere reference the end - 'Wagging Tongue' declares, "I'll meet you by the river/Or maybe on the other side", while sparkling lead single 'Ghosts Again' warns that "Time is fleeting... We'll be ghosts again", though still evoking the same musical space of classic 'Enjoy The Silence'. On the ominous opener 'My Cosmos Is Mine', a vast, empty space of a song, allowing only sharp electric squeals and pounding bass into its void, Dave Gahan lethargically pleads to curl up and shut the world out while Martin Gore chants "No war! No war! No more! No more!" in the most twisted way possible.

So far, so Depeche. Yet there's an acceptance, a feeling of peace amongst all the angst and cynicism, that allows the beauty of the songs to come through. Gahan-penned 'Before We Drown' shimmers with vulnerability, his vocals delicate rather than bellowing, while Gore-led 'Soul With Me' is an homage to Scott Walker, a wonderfully bizarre lounge song with soaring vocals embracing the afterlife. Elsewhere, 'Don't Say You Love Me' is Depeche Mode's James Bond song, a sweeping, string-filled drama - rather over the top, and all the better for it. 'Caroline's Monkey' is an edgy trip through synth pulses and clipped percussion, Gahan's vocals almost spoken word as he paints a picture of paranoia. 'People Are Good' harks back to the metallic clangs of '84 album Some Great Reward and betrays another influence, 'Computer World' by Kraftwerk, while 'Speak To Me's descending chords produce a beautiful, hymnal ending to the album, promising an explosion or ascension at the end that tantalisingly never quite arrives.

There are few singalong choruses on Memento Mori. Far more important are the many hooks, textures and atmospheres that used to be Depeche Mode's stock in trade. It is an album about acceptance of death, but also embraces life, while recognising how fleeting it all is. But rarely have they produced songs this strong, rarely have they sounded so assured, and - rarely have they sounded so at peace, while remaining, in their souls, jet black. Fletch would be proud.



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user ratings (184)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Raul Stanciu STAFF (3.7)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
onionbubs
March 24th 2023


20563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this albums pretty great. not sure if it touches playing the angel for me but its definitely a cut above the three albums that followed that one

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2023


10697 Comments


I don’t mean to nitpick, but memento mori literally traslates "remember death", ergo "remember you are mortal".

"My Cosmos Is Mine" is a great song, the album itself feels like a rendition of Ultra for the 21st century, with hints to their '80s stuff.

Well written review, pos.

bigguytoo9
March 24th 2023


1408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Some of these songs are juicy. I am quite enjoying this so far. Got tickets to see two shows on this tour.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2023


6165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Nice to see you on DM duty Kaleid. Unfortunately, I find this less interesting than Spirit or Delta Machine for example. As expected though, there are some excellent tracks here.

onionbubs
March 24th 2023


20563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i think both those albums are kinda terrible lol so i didnt really have any expectations for this until they started rolling out the singles. glad this one is doing more for me

TheWatchman71
March 24th 2023


342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

After first listen immediate impressions are that this is best one since Playing the Angel, and has quite an Ultra vibe to it. Looking forward to some repeat listens over the weekend to explore it in more detail, but certainly sounds like it has the potential to be very good. Sounds a lot warmer and analogue than recent efforts. Velvet smooth yet painfully dark too.

DoofDoof
March 24th 2023


14935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Last two songs were my favourites here - in fact the last three songs is a nice run.



Cool that Richard Butler was involved in writing the album.

TheWatchman71
March 24th 2023


342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Second listen done, just me and the headphones. This is growing fast on me. Definitely has a very strong finish to the album. Never Let Me Go could have sprung from Joy Division’s Closer. The whole album is just one wonderful dark and mesmerising reverie. Martin and Dave vocal harmonies here are so bitter sweet, the layers and effects make for a really immersive listen, the tunes are powerful without being overstated, you can tell some real care has gone into the production. But most importantly the songs are strong. There is every chance that this could be the last DM album, and I can’t think of better final curtain. This has everything and more that I have loved about DM since coming under their spell when they dropped Black Celebration.

Willie
Moderator
March 24th 2023


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Nice review. I'm starting to look forward to actually hearing this.

onionbubs
March 24th 2023


20563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

martins vocal harmonies on this album are so good

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2023


4695 Comments


Excellent rev

Kaleid
March 24th 2023


760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Voivod - thank you, it definitely feels like it has the same shades of Ultra. The sound here is a bit fuller and more rounded imo. My Cosmos Is Mine is brilliant.



'Remember you must die' is just the accepted meaning taken from the phrase that the band went with, not the literal translation, you're right. If they'd released an album called Carpe Diem, it'd be cool to just roll with it meaning 'seize the day', grab life by the throat, rather than the literal 'pluck the day'

Log S.
March 31st 2023


3394 Comments


Sorry but what does this have in common with Ultra at ALL aside from it being another album they make fresh off the loss of a previous member? Even just in that category, this has way more in common with A Broken Frame - at least sonically



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