A Fanboys Review of Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine (Deluxe Version)

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My oldest and closest friend was amongst the first of my circle of friends to put his ears on this LP.  When I finally discovered it, he joked that he was surprised it had taken me so long to find it. Good things come to those who wait, though. However, he was quick to provide me with highlights of the album. Thanks, my good friend!

His initial observations of Delta Machine highlighted that perhaps something was missing. I joked that perhaps it was Alan Wilder! Though we both know that’s not really it, right? So, I was left pondering what he meant as similar comments have appeared in other reviews too.  Heck, I even started to believe it, though only for a moment.

The funny thing is a few days later he responded that the album had grown on him and that he was really starting to like it. I quickly remembered he had said the same things about Radiohead’s OK Computer about a decade before. And guess what? It became amongst one of our all time favorite albums.

Most good albums take a while to grow on you. Delta Machine is no exception in my estimation. This album has been on constant rotation. I have only taken a break from listening to it when playing Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s English Electric. Yet another gem, for sure.

I don’t know that Delta Machine will ever rival the likes of A Broken Frame, Some Great Reward, Black Celebration, Violator, Songs of Faith and Devotion or Music for the Masses. Those albums are tied to another decade. They are tied to a different time in my life. It is an era I think of fondly but I’m not so sure I want to recreate it or, for that matter, have my musical idols do so either. Those great albums are tied to a different time in the members of Depeche Mode’s lives too. They have moved on and so should you!

Like lazy comparisons, I think people get caught up in reviewers high expectations of new albums from bands that have been at it for well over 3 decades. They expect that same feeling they had during their youth. They expect each track should be a radio hit. I am not as convinced this is a necessity anymore. Especially when we can connect with artist so quickly via the web.

I’m not a Hipster nor a young music consumer. Some magazines and critics have highlighted that these consumer segments might not find this new Depeche Mode album has enough pop sensibilities to offer. That perhaps, it is more blues than pop and the implication that this might now be a good thing for the music-buying public. I say, and will argue, that Depeche Mode has already done the pop thing. Haven’t they already proven themselves to be pop icons? Why do they need to be all those things to all those people now.

Delta Machine is exactly the album I expected from Depeche Mode right now, in the year 2013. It is exactly the album I expected from them after the Martin L. Gore team up with Vince Clarke for their VCMG project. The album that should be with David Gahan now sharing some writing duties with Martin Gore.

I expected lots of analog inspired tracks. I wanted an abundance of synthesizer, and Delta Machine has plenty of it. Pictures of their studio during the making of this album highlight the usual suspects of a rack full of ARP 2600’s, the Eurorack modules, Moog Memorymoog, the Moog Minimoog and a few other analog classics too. Apparently, Martin Gore has rediscovered his passion for the analog family of synthesizers. You can even hear a few lo-fi sounding analog drum machines, like on Heaven, for example.

With all the analog synthesizer goodness on this LP, there are still several piano samples and of course the now signature blues guitar sound of Martin Gore.

Delta Machine is filled with plenty of the dark sophistication I have grown to love of my musical idols. You can read into all those reviews comparing to or longing for something from the past. Though I think if you can convince yourself that nostalgia is not always a good thing, you will grow to love this album as I have.

Some of the standout tracks for me so far are as follows:

  • Slow
  • Broken
  • Welcome To My World
  • Should Be Higher, Always
  • All That’s Mine
  • My Little Universe
  • Secret to the End

Delta Machine is out now on Columbia Records.

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