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depechemode mementomori
Artist: Depeche Mode
Title: Memento Mori
Genre: New Wave / Pop / Electronic
Release Date: 24th March 2023
Label: Columbia International (Sony Music)

Album Review

Ain’t gonna go through the whole story about Fletch’s passing, the meaning of ‘Memento Mori’ and all the things that had been said a million times. Let’s focus on the music and on this eagerly awaited album. Things didn’t really start so well. Another useless press conference to announce basically nothing apart selling tickets and a very disappointing first single that would have been a decent B-Side for sure… but from a band who used to release songs like ‘Wrong’, ‘Precious’, ‘I Feel You’ and other ‘Stripped’, the song was a real disappointment to many. Strangely, it’s Anton Corbijn who saved the day with probably his most interesting video for DM in years (decade?).

‘My Cosmos Is Mine’ is a perfect opener, they rarely mess up with album intros let’s be honest. And at last, Dave Gahan is Dave Gahan again. The voice is clear, sweet, deep without pretending being a so-called crooner. The production is wide, voice effects in the background, interesting chords changes when Gore goes “No More, No More…” Sounds a bit like the ‘Hourglass’ production to me, which is a good thing. ‘Wagging Tongue’, a co-signed Gahan / Gore track, explores KRAFTWERK’s influence like they rarely did, to the exception of ‘World In My Eyes’, with a pure Dusseldorf arpeggiator to lead the track and the synth melody coming after the 2nd choruses. It’s a groovy mid-tempo song like we’re used to, but once again, great vocals, great sounds.

Already talked about ‘Ghosts Again’… that opens the Gore / Butler sequence. A real pity as the production is quite interesting. It’s really down to a matter of songwriting to me. And probably the weakest of the collaboration with Richard Butler. Instead of bringing his own touch, it’s just like he tried to do a DM song. I’m only extrapolating to be honest as nobody really knows (yet) how they collaborated in the songwriting process. Would love to hear a demo with Butler’s voice though. ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ is probably the most surprising one, with Richard Butler’s signature all over the place - melody and most of all, chords changing and progression. Probably the best example of how opening to outside collaborations can bring a freshness and new approaches. Strings orchestrations like those are quite rare in DM’s discography… and it works! Many thought of a kind of “James Bond Theme” … and yeah, could be.

‘My Favorite Stranger’ immediately reminds me of the kind of ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’ style. Vocals effects and production, once again, are great. Even guitars are treated in an interesting way... no lazy garage chords or dirty sound anymore. Should be a great live moment (until it will be screwed by Eigner / Gordeno). The only frustration is the beat. It would have deserved some big, huge snares & kicks after the bridge. The track demands to explode at a certain stage… but it never does. Strangely, there’s only ONE Martin’s song on the album. Something that hadn’t happen since ‘Construction Time Again’. What can I say about ‘Soul With Me’ (composed by Martin only)? It’s a Martin’s song. It’s not a bad one. There are some good moments like choruses, synths bridges. Unfortunately, verses are a bit weak and a feeling of “heard it 101 times before”. Should the track have not been on the album, it really wouldn’t have mattered.

‘Caroline’s Monkey’, the last Butler / Gore collaboration, reminds straight away of ‘Dream On’ in the way Dave sings. But the comparison stops here. The song is a pure electro one and yet another KRAFTWERK homage with the snare sounds and blips taken obviously from the Dusseldorf sounds bank. And of course, the way the “Sometimes” is sung send us straight to ‘Clean’. ‘Before We Drown’ is a Gahan / Gordeno / Eigner number. It never ceases to surprise me how good Gordeno and Eigner can be in terms of songwriting and studio work (check Eigner solo career, you will be very pleasantly surprised) compared to their awful live performances. The work on vocals (lead, back, effects) is amazing. It’s a real space trip close to numbers like ‘Nothing’s Impossible’ or ‘Darkest Star’. And yet KRAFTWERK hits again with ‘People Are Good’. Is the irony of the lyrics (“Keep Fooling Myself that everyone cares and they’re all full of love”) an answer from the 60-ish Martin talking to the 20-ish version of himself asking to understand why ‘People Are People’?

‘Always You’ is another great moment. Once again, it feels so good to hear Dave’s being Dave. So natural, so… himself. It’s just a bit frustrating the song doesn’t go further. ‘Never Let Me Go’ is in the same vein as ‘My Favorite Stranger’. With great vocal wall of sound on the chorus. And one of the few with guitars on the front… but well treated and processed ones, giving an Industrial sound that the band hadn’t touch in a long, long time. But as usual, the weakness is really down to the beats. Why on earth isn’t there some big snare sound anymore? ‘Speak To Me’ sees Marata Salogni (the real star of the album as her work really took everything to another level) and James Ford collaborates with Gahan and Eigner… And it’s the perfect track closing the loop after ‘My Cosmos Is Mine’ album opener. Gahan sings his heart out… The “I Need To Know You’re Here With Me” can only makes us think of our dear Fletcher. But the frustration of the beats is there too. It would have deserved a closing a la ‘Clean’ or ‘In Your Room’.

Conclusion: It feels SO good to enjoy an album from DEPECHE MODE. A sensation I (and obviously a lot of fans) haven’t felt for long, too long. Ok, here and there, I found some stuffs I felt could have been better, or different. One thing though… I’ve read a lot of comments comparing to ‘Some Great Reward’, ‘Black Celebration’ or even ‘Construction Time Again’. Hold my beer a sec’… This album as NOTHING to do with this era. It’s more a perfect fusion of the 2007-2017 era… but this time, well done. It’s the result of the sound developed since ‘Playing The Angel’. You can clearly hear, here and there, some similarities with ‘Playing The Angel’, ‘Sounds Of The Universe’, ‘Delta Machine’ and ‘Spirit’. One different though: This time, the songwriting is here, the production is massive, there’s no artifact (No Dave Elvis Gahan, No Martin Diva / Tremelo Gore) and most of all, it’s an ALBUM. A real one.

The band tells a story making the body of work complete. You can’t isolate a song from the rest. ‘Cosmos Is Mine’ doesn’t work if you don’t complete it with ‘Speak To Me’ for example. It’s probably the only point of comparison with the past as only once, with ‘Black Celebration’, the band produced the closest you can get to a “concept album”. If it was to be the last DEPECHE MODE album, I could easily live with it. Oh… By the way… Absolutely NO thanks to wherever promoter, the band, Sony or I don’t know who for the absolute lake of consideration towards the indie alternative medias such as Side-Line, Reflections of Darkness and many others. There was a time when they were more than happy to rely on our support. Nobody had the album to review it whereas mainstream medias, including those who criticized the band for years, had the luxury of having it since weeks. The only reason we can publish the review is the incredible devotion of fans who sent us the album… thanks to Amazon who, by mistake, sent the vinyl a couple of days ago.


01. My Cosmos Is Mine
02. Wagging Tongue
03. Ghosts Again
04. Don’t Say You Love Me
05. My Favourite Stranger
06. Soul With Me
07. Caroline’s Monkey
08. Before We Drown
09. People Are Good
10. Always You
11. Never Let Me Go
12. Speak To Me


Dave Gahan
Martin Gore


Cover Picture

depechemode mementomori


Music: 8
Sound: 9
Total: 8.5 / 10

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