Depeche Mode’s fourteenth studio album, on first four or five listens, is a disappointment. Considering the heavy guitar-laden sound that had begun to emerge as the latter day Depeche Mode sound (epitomized by the remix of “Enjoy the Silence”), and considering the recent return to heights of their contemporaries New Order in 2015’s “Music Complete,” I had high hopes for this new Depeche Mode offering. It never quite explodes the way I want it to. The lyrics seem preachy and simplistic, obvious, going after nationalism, fascism, religion-based intolerance and ignorance, and the lack of resistance to these things.
We all know things are fucked, but surely you can say it with more power. You can say it like a clever Dylan song – listen to “Masters of War,” dripping with bitter recrimination, ripping into the target; you can conjure nightmare sirens like Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”; you can even get sophisticated and musically experimental like Einstürzende Neubauten’s 2014 First World War performance piece “Lament.” Compared to the range of approaches out there, this “Spirit” seems somewhat pale and thin.
“Where’s the revolution? Come on people you’re letting me down.” This album is letting me down.