I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!
Listen I used their opening single a few weeks back, so you know this had to be coming: Depeche Mode: Memento Mori.
The band - what is left of it - were correct in selecting "Ghosts Again" as their pre-release song. Without a doubt, it's the best song on the disk. The lead song on the disk, "My Cosmos is Mine" is a huge misstep in terms of track sequencing. It doesn't make you want to listen to the song - or album - all the way through.
I like DM - always have. It's not to say they haven't laid a few stinkers before. Over 40-odd years and 15 studio releases, they can't all be winners, right? And it's not to say that Memento Mori is a stinker. No one is truly benefiting from a review where I've only had a week to listen to the music. But I'm pretty good at first impressions. To be clear, judging them, not making them.
Depeche Mode hasn't really broken new ground with this disk, and in a way, it should. Now down to a duo, they had the chance to mess things up - literally. Maybe, mix things up. But they don't. Not much. Not enough.
In a way, they're on new territory, maybe the instinct was to play it safe. And they do.
I do not believe it is coincidence that what grabbed me as the highlights ("Ghosts Again", "Caroline's Monkey", "Don't Say You Love Me" and "Favourite Stranger") were co-written with Richard Butler, from the Psychedelic Furs (who had a pretty good release - their first in 37 years - last year).
Martin Gore sings lead on one track, and while not unlistenable, I don't always make it through, Dave Gahan only has co-writing credits on two tracks - one of them being pretty good, "Before I Drown".
Unless Wikipedia is wrong, Gore doesn't play any instruments on this disk. Gahan almost never (if ever) does anyway. The guy who produced has all music credit that are not strings. It's quite a departure, as Gore was kind of the multi-instrumentalist of the group.
As you'd expect, after Andy Fletcher's unexpected death, there are a lot of themes of grief and death that run throughout the album.
Mori is fine, but it's not a classic. It's never going to grow into that either.
On a side note: Depeche Mode is touring with this disk, and slated for a stop in Cleveland. At the big basketball arena.
This interests me in many ways. I've never seen them live. And 710 asked - rhetorically - who would go to the show. It's a good question. Would there be anyone under 50? And if so, did they just bring their parents or grandparents to see the band?
I honestly don't know what kind of crowd this would bring. Or what kind of audience they have. They were staples in gay bars, but those aren't as prevalent as when I was "young" - and that exposure they had in those venues is 30+ years ago. I am tempted to go, but we have a while. I just don't want all the handicapped seating to get filled up before I decide.