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Album review: Despite relevant themes, Depeche Mode’s ‘Spirit’ suffers

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Sprit was produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco.

Two and a half stars

Depeche Mode Spirit

The prevailing word on the synth-pop kings’ 14th studio album is that it’s political. Spirit—produced by James Ford of electronic act Simian Mobile Disco—might reference the disillusionment and discord of the times (albeit with Muse-level vagueness), but songwriters and vocalists Martin L. Gore and Dave Gahan are more interested in the psychological toll. A song like “Cover Me”—imagine 1990 masterwork Violator infused with Kraftwerkian grandeur—reminds us that we might escape the planet’s problems, but you won’t escape ours.

And so goes most of the album: From hook-less single “Where’s the Revolution” to the torchy “The Worst Crime” (both arch but clunky indictments of our apathetic society), Spirit adopts Ghandi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world” and sets it to industrial Gothic blues. Sadly, little of it sticks, Depeche Mode concentrating so much on the album’s themes and instrumental nuance that its tunefulness and drive suffers. Aside from some swinging, vampy moments on “Going Backwards” and “Poison Heart,” the pulsating “So Much Love” is the lone standout. For an album seeking to ignite something within its listener, it possesses little spark.

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