Depeche Mode: “Memento Mori” – the ROLLING STONE review (Review & Stream)

Their songs used to be so catchy that Depeche Mode didn’t start with the verse but with the chorus, for example “Strangelove”. Only the Beatles and Abba could do that. But what could meanwhile be more important to them than catchy tunes: the epic story, fed by a life full of deprivation – near death (Gahan), death (Fletcher) and fear of war (Gore) – and presented in long, poetic texts.

Produced by James Ford in the washed-out, unnecessarily noisy “dirty electro” sound of “Playing the Angel” (2005) and more meditative than eventful, the twelve songs nevertheless reveal some insights. “I’m heading for the ever after / leaving my problems / and the world’s disasters” sings Martin Gore in the escapist “Soul with me”, and every song text will surely be checked for weeks to see whether it’s about Fletch – Dave Gahan begs in “Speak To Me: “Give me something, you’d be my drug of choice”. Some of the references to prominent role models are artful, like the watery “Franz Schubert” tones of the Kraftwerk piece of the same name; only when it’s supposed to be blues does Gahan, encouraged by his successful solo career, immerse himself a little too deeply in pathos and stylism (“Don’t Say You Love Me”).

real hits? Haven’t written Depeche Mode for many years. But these songs have a gravitas that didn’t exist before. No more fantasy. But confessions, requests, negotiations. Maybe they shut themselves off. They used to invite, “Welcome To My World”. Now it says, right at the beginning: “My Cosmos Is Mine”. But there is also light at the end of the tunnel: For Gahan and Gore it is no longer “People are People” but “People are Good”.


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