Album Review: Depeche Mode, Spirit

Synth warriors shine on consistently rewarding album number 14.

“Depeche Mode is the official band of the alt-right,” recently declared Richard Spencer, a prominent neo-fascist whose “to do” list includes “peaceful” ethnic cleansing and the creation of a homeland for a “dispossessed white race” (Spencer, the rank fool, has also declined to denounce naughty mid-20th century political leader Adolf Hitler).

Depeche Mode couldn’t have known they would be dragged into this ethno-nationalist tug of war when recording their 14th album. And yet Spirit is spikily political – almost clairvoyant in how it grapples with the fight between backwards-looking nostalgia and blue sky progressivism.

“We have not evolved/ We have no respect/ We have lost control/ We’re going,” sings David Gahan on Nine Inch Nails-esque opening track ‘Going Backwards’ – a diatribe difficult not to process through the filter of Brexit and Trump.

But DM are just warming up. On ‘Where’s The Revolution?’ Gahan wonders why we haven’t pulled ourselves away from our screens and taken to the streets demanding justice.

At its best Spirit feels like a restatement of Depeche Mode’s core musical beliefs. This brings us to the great, throbbing irony at the heart of the album. Even as Depeche Mode rail against nostalgia for an imagined yesteryear, Spirit reminds us that not all harking backwards is wrong. Buckle-up: this is a trip to the past well worth taking.


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