Depeche Mode Delivers a Tour De Force With ‘Spirit’
Depeche Mode successfully ignite the revolution on its latest tour de force, ‘Spirit.’ Epic describes the morally, socially, and politically-charged LP.
Veteran electronic rock band Depeche Mode gave conceived the perfect album for “times like these.” Spirit examines the moral, social, and political turmoil of present times. Frontman Dave Gahan isn’t particularly enthused about anything over the course of Spirit, painting a pessimistic portrait of the direction of life. While this isn’t an empowering album, it is a realistic, thoughtful tour de force.
“But we have nothing inside / We feel nothing inside.” “Going Backwards” is an epic opening salvo, exemplifying the album title Spirit. “Going Backwards” captures the spineless nature of government and society in general, accompanied by dark electronic production work. Lyrically, Dave Gahan consistently references the power of technology, prominence of killings, and a lack of conscience.
“Where’s the Revolution”
Depeche Mode continues to be critical of the current state of affairs on “Where’s the Revolution.” The source of anger is government and the game of politics. Even as Gahan criticizes those in power, the chorus points the finger at the people.
“Where’s the revolution? / Come on, people / You’re letting me down.”
By the bridge, the revolution ensues, characterized by repetition:
“The train is coming… / So get on board / Get on board…/The engine’s humming.”
Once more, the production is intense, amplified by its minor key.
Darkness continues on “The Worst Crime,” an unsettling, but relevant record. From the jump, Depeche Mode go for the kill, literally.
“There’s a lynching in the square / You will have to join us / Everyone’s going to be there / We’re setting up the truss.”
“The Worst Crime” speaks about poor choices – reacting on impulse as opposed to being logical. By the band’s estimations, this is arguably worse than the actual event taking place.
“Scum” is ferocious, featuring distorted vocals, intense synths, and passionate anger.
“Hey scum, hey scum / What have you ever done for anyone / Hey scum, hey scum / What will you do when judgment time has come?”
The subject of Gahan’s anger is subject to interpretation, but he makes his point clearly. Ultimately, he asserts, “Pull the trigger.”
“You Move” switches gears, at least to an extent. Gahan and Depeche Mode are still making judgments, but things shift from bigger ideas (government and society) to a smaller scale (a relationship). It seems as if there’s history from Gahan’s perspective, evidenced on the third verse:
“Imagination is all it takes / You came knocking at my door / You should talk to me about the life WE should’ve had / You know, you could have given more.”
While this breaks from those most relevant ideas, this is a timely change of pace.
“Cover Me” can be best described as an escapism record. Slow and mysterious, Gahan’s baritone is fully invested as he’s searching for another life. Judging by the lyrics, the life in which Gahan and Depeche Mode are exploring lies in outer space.
“Way up here with the Northern lights / Beyond you and me / I dreamt of us in another life / One we’ve never reached.”
The production complements this sound, with both lushness and driving rhythms. “Eternal” follows, again characterized by its intense emotions. Ultimately, this brief song is both unsettling and radiant at the same time.
“Poison Heart” masterfully depicts an ending relationship. Gahan blames his soon-to-be ex, asserting “you have poison in your heart” and “you have poison in your mind.” Clearly bitter, he goes on to assert, “You know you’ve never been a friend / Now we’re closer to the edge.” “So Much Love” kicks up the tempo, but despite its loving title, it’s once more set in a minor key. Among the cleverest lyrics appear on the bridge:
“You can forsake me / Try to break me / But you can’t shake me / No / You can despise me / Demonize me / It satisfies me / So.”
In the hands of Depeche Mode, so much love sounds almost demonic.
“Poorman” returns Spirit to a socioeconomic and political tone. The chorus nails the sentiment:
“Corporations get the breaks / Keeping almost everything they make / Tell us just how long it’s going to take / For it to trickle down / When will it trickle down?”
Essentially, Gahan points the finger at how unfair the poor are treated and neglected, while the rich aren’t suffering in the least. Penultimate record “No More (This is the Last Time)” is just what it says it is – a final goodbye. Closer “Fail” doesn’t fail in regards to its quality. Depeche Mode paints a scathing, unoptimistic picture of the human race.
“Our souls are corrupt / Our minds are messed up / Our consciences bankrupt / Oh, we’re f*cked.”
While Gahan doesn’t specifically point his finger at government, his feelings on its current state can be implied.
Ultimately, Depeche Mode delivers a gem with Spirit. There is no shortage of spirit, with Dave Gahan simply “telling it like it is.” This isn’t an optimistic affair, but this real approach embodies the spirit of the times perfectly.
Gems: “Going Backwards,” “Where’s the Revolution,” “Scum,” “Cover Me,” “Poison Heart”
Depeche Mode • Spirit • Columbia • Release: 3.17.17
Photo Credit: Columbia