Album Review: Depeche Mode – “Delta Machine”

Depeche Mode is releasing their thirteenth album, Delta Machine, on March 26, 2013. However, a preview stream of the album was available at iTunes for a limited time, and I was able to listen to the stream. This review is based on listening to this iTunes stream.

The album opens with “Welcome to My World,” which is a slow to midtempo track that begins with a minimal music track. The music builds as the song progresses, and Dave’s vocals are in fine form. Admittedly, the track is a little slow to get going; however, once it gets going, it’s an enjoyable listen. This was best song to open the album with.

“Angel” is the next song, and it flows directly out of “Welcome to My World.” The song starts out with a slower tempo, but the tempo picks up as the song progresses. Dave’s vocal delivery really makes me think of one of the songs from Dave’s solo album, Paper Monsters (I’m thinking it’s “Black and Blue Again” that it’s making me think of). This isn’t a bad song at all, and it flows well out of “Welcome to My World.”

This is followed by “Heaven,” the lead-off single for Delta Machine. This is a slower song in tempo; in some respects, it’s kind of like “Condemnation” from Songs of Faith and Devotion, but without the intensity of “Condemnation.” Also, the focus on the instrumentation between the two songs is a little different. After hearing the single, it’s one of the few slower songs on the album that would work as a single.

Next is “Secret to the End,” which picks up the tempo of the album. To me, I can definitely a Violator-era vibe to this song, and it’s one of the more “pop friendly” tracks on the album. It’s catchy and memorable, and I personally believe this should be released as a single from Delta Machine.

“My Little Universe” slows the album back down. To me, this is probably the weakest song on Delta Machine. The beginning of the song is a little awkward, and it sounds as if Dave’s vocals and the music really don’t meld together well. Unfortunately, this awkwardness remains for quite a bit of the song before the music and vocals finally sound as if they actually go together; but by the time the song reached this point, I had lost interest in it.

This is followed by “Slow,” and the tempo of the song lives up to its title. Musically, this feels like a cross between the percussion of the Songs of Faith and Devotion era and the music of Dave Gahan’s Paper Monsters album. It’s not a bad song, but I think I would have liked it a little better if it hadn’t directly followed “My Little Universe.”

“Broken” brings the tempo back up to a mid-to-uptempo range. Dave uses his deeper vocal range for this song, and the combination of Dave’s vocal performance with the music makes this a nice change of pace from the previous two songs. While this would make for a decent single from the album, I don’t think it’s quite as “single friendly” as “Secret to the End” is.

“The Child Inside” slows the album back down, and it’s the only song on Delta Machine to feature Martin Gore on lead vocals. Musically, it’s the type of song that Depeche Mode fans have come to expect for one to feature Martin on lead vocals.

“Soft Touch / Raw Nerve” picks the tempo back up. It’s a nice song, but there are times that the bassline makes me think of a U2 song (specifically, “Even Better Than the Real” Thing from Achtung Baby). However, once you look past that, this is a catchy song that would also have potential if it was released as a single from Delta Machine.

Next is “Should Be Higher,” which slows the tempo of the album down again. One of the most notable things about this song is the fact that Dave Gahan is hitting a slightly higher register than usual during the chorus of the song; the use of this higher register like this really enhances the song. If the band wants to promote another slower song from Delta Machine as a single, then this would probably be the best one to release.

The tempo picks back up with “Alone,” a song that utilizes a heavier bassline than one would normally associate with Depeche Mode. The musical elements of this song are actually rather interesting, and they work well not just with each other, but with the vocal performance as well.

“Soothe My Soul” is next, and it’s another catchy song on the album. The chorus is especially catchy, and it features a nice trade-off in the vocals between Dave Gahan and Martin Gore. From what I’ve read, “Soothe My Soul” is supposed to be the second single from Delta Machine; while this wouldn’t have been my first choice for the second single, this song is a decent single choice. It will be interesting to see how this single is received.

The album closes with “Goodbye,” and it works well for this position both with its title and for the sonic feel of the song. Musically, I can really hear an influence from Songs of Faith and Devotion; the guitar part sounds reminiscent to “I Feel You.” The lyrical delivery also reminds me of “Breathe” from Exciter.

The one major thing I have to say about Delta Machine is the fact that this album has the energy that I felt the Songs of the Universe album was lacking. I read in interviews that the band had been trying to recapture the vibe of the Violator and the Songs of Faith and Devotion albums. While I can’t say that Delta Machine is the “second coming” of either of these albums, I can say that the listener can hear the influences that these two Depeche Mode albums had on Delta Machine.

Even with the disappointment of “My Little Universe,” I’m still wanting to get a hold of the Delta Machine album on CD when it’s released on March 26, 2013.


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