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Depeche Mode – Memento Mori

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Depeche Mode – Memento Mori

by Oliver
on March 26, 2023
in Album

Memento Morithe album following the death of Andy Fletcher, faces expectations that Sounds of the Universe, Delta Machine and Spirit actually not appropriate at all.

Finally, there was one Ghosts Againthe first herald of the fifteenth studio work and after all the most immediately convincing, with undulating melody and springy, driving rhythm finally emotionally functioning single again Depeche Mode for a long, long time; and second, there was this density of anticipatory reviews that would agree that Memento Mori by far the band’s best album of this millennium. What given the class of the eternally underestimated Exciter (2001) and the widely recognized as brilliant Playing The Angel (2005) then definitely raised the claims.
The first contact with the 50 minutes from Memento Mori is sobering in this starting position – although not really surprising: the twelve numbers of the mourning work lift that Depeche Mode-Level again noticeably above that of the three previous works, actual euphoria does not want to set in in view of a solid, largely gradually growing, but at times also simply maintained boring return.

The prolonged fresh cell treatment only takes place in detail. By the typed MO sounding more motivated than before and as the routine is no longer the sole obligation for the next stadium tour, for example. Or to the extent that the blues as a crutch from the band’s cosmos was finally removed and the songwriting, even without anthems or hits (and to be precise: even only moderately inspired ambitions), is more homogeneous and consistent again, the band’s great production by James Ford very well (even if unfortunately it does not ensure that Depeche Mode provoking out of the comfort zone) and just the other three songs that Martin L. Gore next to Ghosts Again with Psychedelic Furs-Written by Richard Butler and seamlessly in the course of Memento Mori has assimilated, show coherently: the contemplative Don’t Say You Love Me with its melancholy swaying chords, digital strings and latent Bond flair, which cultivates something gothic in its complaisance, but dispenses with the aha moment that could tear itself out of the rippling, far more than the electropop of My Favourite Strangerwho lets his beat pluck and loses himself in ambient realms behind it, using the noise as a harmless sound painting effect to distract from the lack of substance. Caroline’s Monkey On the other hand, is one of the few songs that shows up and sticks with you on the first listen, with a catchy hook – even if the chorus serves up flat wisdom, the external swing (no, no creative friction!) makes the whole thing fun again to feel.

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The prognosis that Memento Mori probably also the final album of the band, didn’t seem to be a daring one in advance. However, it now seems more likely that Depeche Mode will simply continue beyond these 50 minutes. Because for better or worse, the process continues without confrontation even without the bridge builder Fletcher, whose death is presumably processed in so many lines of the record. vulnerabilities like Before We Drown (Keyboarder Peter Gordeno and drummer Christian Eigner get credits for the optimistic message in a rather tired synth-pop interchangeability) are confidently carried by the overall structure, in which Gore once again does a lot to serve the hearts of fans.
My Cosmos is Mine opens atmospherically dark, crackling and hissing and dense with dystopian synths that pull atmospherically into the trademark world, while the operatic staccato backings that set in at some point even have something of Scott Walker. People are Good throbs engagingly curiously shimmering, Always You pulls the refrain together almost more urgently in the sedative and Never Let Me Go even lets the guitar howl and squeak a little bit, although everything then remains strangely restrained. Erotic outbursts seem inappropriate. Understandable – but in terms of the general tension and dynamics also: unfortunately.

Wagging Tonguethe only song that Gahan and Gore wrote together this time, is exemplary for the state of the record in that the decelerated, pulsating club tendency actually only lacks the refined sticking point that lifts a good number one floor higher.
Soul With Me as the heart and calmly simmering longing led by Gore’s voice, it sails in a forgiving and dreamy way, but just as little as the other songs manages to really grab or stir up emotionally. Memento Mori never go where it hurts – which one Depeche Mode given the circumstances, of course, hardly want to blame. But that’s why a latent feeling of non-binding always remains, not only when the retro-futuristically painted final piece Speak to Me (actually made for Gore on the mic – but the Brits’ fifteenth studio album is also a work of missed opportunities) completely decelerates, so forgivingly bathes in the digestible distortion and above all seems to be intent on itself – ultimately then so completely without disappointment! – to be a consolation: “I will disappoint you/ I will let you down/ I need to know/ You’re here with me/ Turn it all around/ I’d be grateful/ I’d follow you around/ I’m listening, I’m here now, I’m found“. As a compromise, let’s just agree on the band’s best album since Playing the Angel?

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