Depeche Mode – Memento Mori
Depeche Mode are one of the most successful British acts of the past 40 years, selling over 100 million records worldwide that combine elements of pop, electronic and alternative rock, and often delivering dark masterpieces like 1990’s Violator and 1987’s Music for the Masses. The Essex group return with Memento Mori, their first album since 2017’s Spirit without the involvement of founding member and keyboardist Andy Fletcher, and their only new music released since his death in May 2022.
In spite of the absence of Fletcher, this is classic Depeche Mode across the board, balancing the sonic textures that have informed their five-decade career and made them a constantly evolving act. The 12 tracks show that, far from throwing in the towel, they still have a lot to say – and they have a devoted fanbase to match.
Opener My Cosmos Is Mine sets the gloomy tone and, along with My Favourite Stranger, would feel right at home on Violator or Songs of Faith and Devotion. Wagging Tongue has a slow buildup, structured around Dave Gahan’s vocals, which are in excellent form throughout. Lead single Ghosts Again is one of the standouts, a fine advert for the album that captures the best of the group’s sound, the defiant mix of dark, melodic pop showing they’ve lost none of their vigour.
Don’t Say You Love me is an almost cinematic number on a huge scale, with soft melodic guitars building into something expansive and epic. Caroline’s Monkey, heavily reliant on synths, recalls the likes of World in My Eyes or Policy of Truth, but it’s far from a copy and shows the band’s growth. Another brooding highlight that slowly unfurls towards its crescendo is Before We Drown. People Are Good and Never Let Me Go are full of pulsating energy that can still get an audience on its feet.
Depeche Mode have never been an act to rest on their laurels, with lineup changes over the years and brushes with mortality. This record feels like a tribute to Fletcher and their storied history, meanwhile showing they still have more than enough in the tank to contribute something to the music landscape of 2023. Memento Mori is a testament to their continued innovation and progressive tendencies, and finds them firing on all cylinders to deliver some of their best work in recent years – fitting for their legacy and sure to bring optimism for their future.
Memento Mori is released on 24th March 2023. For further information or to order the album visit Depeche Mode’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Caroline’s Monkey here: