Depeche Mode - Delta Machine - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Depeche Mode - Delta Machine

by Sarah Allen Rating:8 Release Date:2013-03-25

The Synth Godfathers from Essex are back with their 13th studio album, released in 2013, and containing - you guessed it - 13 tracks. But there's nothing unlucky about this project. Fronted by the ever-sexy Dave Gahan, accompanied by the soulful vocals of Martin Gore and with Andy Fletcher working his magic fingers on the keyboards, Depeche Mode have oiled, buffed and ultimately thrown in the towel and upgraded their Delta Machine to return with an anarchic, dark and sensual album, paying homage to the old-school of Delta blues.

The album's rousing first single, 'Heaven', has gospel undertones, with Gahan declaring: "I will sing with joy." Daddy Dave, as he will henceforth be known, calls this track Delta Machine's "lynchpin" and says he wanted the rest of the album "to be as good", but I think other tracks here exceed it. Inviting and inciting, 'Welcome to My World' does just that with a bit of grace and a lot of attitude. Daddy Dave advises: "Leave your tranquilizers at home/ You don't need them anymore." Enough said, as this opener sets the pace for what is a diverse and strong album.

'Broken' is classic Depeche Mode, with its eerie key changes and foreboding sound. The BFF (Best Friends Forever) anthem takes fans back to 'Never Let Me Down Again' from 1987's Music for the Masses album, with lines like: "When you're falling, I will catch you." Another familiar-sounding tune is resident leg-tapper 'Should Be Higher', which tastes a bit like 'Hunter' by Björk, save for its trademark Mode key-changes and ethereal quality.

The album is all business until halfway through when Daddy Dave steps away and 'The Child Inside' comes out to play for four glorious minutes with a beautiful dirge. Let us please take a second or two to acknowledge Gore's gorgeous lead vocals and equally gorgeous songwriting. He lends a tenderness to this haunting track, lamenting, "There is darkness and death in your eyes/ What have you got buried inside?", and, "The child inside you died."

Angry break-up track 'Alone' had better not be about you, with lyrics like, "Now it's too late for words that should have been said long ago," and, "I couldn't tell if you were blessed or cursed." Yet the demise of a relationship never sounded so good. Other stellar tracks include the relentless 'Secret to the End' (note the track's funky finish) and 'Soothe My Soul'. Synth meets rock and gives birth to dance with the latter, a catchy little ditty destined to make a great sing-along on tour. Gore's backing vocals on the chorus take it from OK to OMFG.

However, this album falls down in certain areas. Ultra-modern blues track 'Slow' should be a turn-on, with its classic guitar riff and lyrics like, "I don't need a race in my bed," and, "Slow as you can go/ that's how I like it." Instead it comes across as a desperate plea. And no-one wants to sleep with a horny, desperate 50-year-old…'My Little Universe' is another one I don't entirely 'get'. This is not to say it's a bad song, it's just so utterly different to the rest of the album. It sounds a lot like Radiohead post-Ok Computer and feels more like a remix of a Depeche Mode song. Perhaps we just need more time to get to know each other.

Eventually, though, we are escorted kicking and screaming from the premises rather unceremoniously by our hosts with the apocalyptic and aptly-titled 'Goodbye', which bares an uncanny resemblance to scientists' predictive descriptions of the end of the world: Masochistically violent and gloriously devastating. Stunning.

Whatever the track, it is strongly advised that you listen to this album in its entirety as loud as possible. Your neighbours won't mind; in fact they'd be grateful. In the event of Belieber neighbours, however, headphones work a treat. And to any curmudgeons who think Delta Machine is "a little young" for the Mode, I hope the Synth Godfathers will reply, "We are 50-odd and fucking fabulous!"

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