Depeche Mode – Delta Machine (Mute)

April 2, 2013 by  

Depeche Mode - Delta Machine Album Cover

If Google can?t come up with an answer for what a delta machine is, after listening to Depeche Mode?s 13th album ‘Delta Machine’, Addict Music certainly can?t shed any more light either. What we can say, is that the electro behemoth known to their fans as ‘The Mode’ are back, and are still as baffling as ever.

When they broke the four years silence with d?but single ‘Heaven’, many reacted with a sigh, a shrug of the shoulders a ?is that it??. Had Depeche Mode really become that bland? The tired old Martin Gore blues riff and the dead pan vocals, but without any of the charm and melody that the band are so fondly remembered for. Luckily ‘Heaven’ is by far not the best track on ‘Delta Machine’. It just simply sets the mood, to what is, in many ways, a sister album to the brooding sinister -glory of ‘Songs of Faith and Devotion’ (their best album?)

‘Welcome To My World’ opens up the album and we really find out that for Depeche Mode in 2013, the world is one sick puppy. A distorted place full of the dirtiest guitar riffs and songs searching for redemption and packed with regret. The soundtrack for leather and black nail varnish. ‘Angel’ is very much not a beacon of white light, more a sequel to ‘I Feel You’ with a rather similar riff and Dave Gahan borrowing Nick Cave’s growl. But the album isn?t entirely all doom and gloom, ‘Secret To The End’ harks back to the more anthemic sound of ‘Violator’ and ‘Broken’ are both penned by Gahan and his co- writer Kurt Uenala, which bizarrely, have a more classic Depeche Mode sound than any of songwriter extraordinaire?Martin Gore’s latest material. 10 or even 5 years ago no one would have ever conceived that Gahan would out- write Gore. But, not for the first time in the band’s history, their main songwriter may have to take a step to the side to allow the new blood to guide the way.

Ben Hillier again takes the controls and completes his trilogy of albums starting with ‘Playing The Angel’. A shock after the disappointment of ‘Sounds Of The Universe’, where many of the ill- favoured reviews pointed the finger at the muddy, noisy production.Sadly, ‘Delta Machine’ suffers from the same fate. A mix of organic instrumentation alongside the brooding synths would have made for a more engaging listen. Both ‘Should Be Higher’ and ‘Angel’ are crying out for some live percussion and louder guitars. Depeche Mode used to create albums by layering intricate melodies on top of one another, but now they just offer a muddied, less dynamic, appeal.

‘Delta Machine’ is a step in the right direction for the Basildon three, but when comparing it to previous glories, it would barely break into their top ten.With the right producer (Alan Wilder?) and maybe a Gore and Gahan collaboration, Depeche Mode might have enough in them for one last classic album.