Depeche Mode: Delta Machine
Alternative & IndieDance & Electronica
Depeche Mode and their trademark ‘dark electronica’ have been around for more than thirty years. Formed in 1980, they released their first album, Speak & Spell, in 1981. The hit single ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ paved their way to fame and in 1990 their seventh album, Violator, which included hits ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Enjoy The Silence’, consolidated their permanent place in music history.
As with many veteran bands in the music business, Depeche Mode have been unable to maintain their early string of best-seller albums and their last few records have largely gone unnoticed to the masses. This seems unlikely to change with the release of their thirteenth studio album, Delta Machine.
At first, hearing Delta Machine merely appears to be a logical extension of its older brother and precursor, Sounds of the Universe; but where most songs on the latter were quite bland and repetitive, Delta Machine fortunately sounds a lot more inspired.
The wobbling deep bass in opener, ‘Welcome to My World’, for instance, is very uncharacteristic of the band; a bit of a dubstep can even be found in the slow-creeping track, ‘Happens All the Time’. The first single to be released, ‘Heaven’, is also a bit of a curveball, as it is one of the slowest tracks on the album with a Massive Attack-esque intro that warps into a piano ballad, hacked up with lingering electronic beats and a distorted wailing guitar.
‘My Little Universe’ is Depeche Mode at their most minimal, while on ‘The Child Inside’, ‘Soothe My Soul’ and ‘Broken’, they demonstrate how a proper New Wave track is constructed. Both ‘Slow’ and ‘Goodbye’ heavily lean on bluesy guitar riffs and carry a slight gospel feel that is reminiscent of classic albums, Violator, Songs of Faith and Devotion, and the more recent, Playing The Angel.
According to lead singer Dave Gahan, Delta Machine is the last of a trilogy with producer Ben Hillier, who aside from his work with the English trio is best known for albums produced with Elbow and Blur. Hillier came on board in 2005, with the great Playing the Angel record, stayed on for 2009’s mediocre Sounds of the Universe, and is now back in the spotlight with this very pleasant album.
With their latest, Depeche Mode seem to be on a clear path, ready for something new, so it will be interesting to see where their next album and the subsequent new producer will take them.