Depeche Mode – ‘Delta Machine’

The 'Mode are back. But they're not at their best...

Depeche Mode should be showing both the new synth-pop pretenders and the stadium-pomp likes of Muse how it’s done, so why do they latterly always seem just… decent? Their 13th studio album comes after the reunion of DM’s former and current chief songwriters, Vince Clarke and Martin Gore, and seems to a degree reinvigorated by that experimentation. The first half is dominated by sound and texture for sound and texture’s sake, with ‘Welcome To My World’ ushering you in with a grating low thrum and a beat as strong as a mouse’s palpitations. It’s let down, though, by the ‘inimitable’ Dave Gahan lyrics: “I’ll penetrate your soul/I’ll bleed into you…”. Where this album tries for a harder, more adventurous sound, they’re still stuck with one leg in leather trousers. ‘Slow’, too, demonstrates just how little anyone needs Gahan being ‘sleazy’ in a 50-shaded world. Things improve with the defter ‘Soft Touch/Raw Nerve’ and ‘Soothe My Soul’, but ‘Delta Machine’ sounds like it’s just warming up.

Emily Mackay

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