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Music

Depeche Mode releases 'Spirit,' an unusually political album

The veteran British band Depeche Mode is releasing its new album, "Spirit," with an intimate concert in Berlin. Here's a look back at the group's influence - and a variety of covers.

Cult British new wave band Depeche Mode dropped its 14th studio album on Friday. The group will be celebrating the new release with a concert at a small venue in Berlin, the Funkhaus concert hall. A 360-degree livestream will allow fans worldwide to join the performance.

Active for four decades, Depeche Mode's dark synthpop sound of the 80s inspired many techno musicians afterwards.

Goth teens recognized their own existential problems in their angst-ridden lyrics. The definition of alternative coolness for high-school kids towards the end of the 80s was to own the band's albums before everyone else discovered them with their first mainstream success in 1990, "Violator," which included hits such as "Personal Jesus," "Policy of Truth" and "World in My Eyes."

Depeche Mode in 1985 (picture-alliance/Jazzarchiv)

The British band performing in Cologne in 1985

Although "Q" magazine once declared Depeche Mode "the most popular electronic band the world has ever known," its 21st century output was less influential. Their albums and tours drew more on the fans' nostalgia for the soundtrack that healed their first heartbreaks.

'Spirit': a new tone

The new album could have been reduced to another trip down memory lane, but early reviews see it as a distinct highlight in the electro-pop veterans' discography: "Blow by blow, it all adds up to Depeche Mod's best album this century," wrote "Mojo" magazine.

CD Cover Spirit by Depeche Mode

The cover of the new album

The album is their first collaboration with producer James Ford of the band Simian Mobile Disco, who also produced acclaimed albums by Florence & The Machine and Arctic Monkeys.

Reflection of the post-Trump world

As might be expected from a band known for its emotional dissection of angst, "Spirit" reflects the word's current uncertainties. Recorded during the campaign for the Brexit referendum, it is their most political work to date.

Some tracks unwittingly offer a direct answer to US President Donald Trump. The single "Where's the Revolution" declares, for example, "You've been lied to, you've been fed truths / Who's making your decisions, you or your religion / Your government your countries, you patriotic junkies," going on to ask non-ironically, "Where's the revolution? Come on people, you're letting me down."

"I think a lot of people are very frustrated and very angry, and I think that they've just misplaced their anger. I think the system is broken and it needs to be fixed, but with the Brexit vote and by electing Trump, some of the decisions being made are not helping anyone," said bandmember and main songwriter Gore to "Yahoo! Music" in reference to the song.

The black-and-white video directed by Anton Corbijn was released in February.

Last month, during the Conservative Political Action Conference, the leader of the white nationalist movement in the US, Richard Spencer, controversially claimed that Depeche Mode was "the official band of the alt-right." Singer Dave Gahan forcefully denied any links between his band and the racist movement, calling Richard Spencer "a very educated cu--," adding, "That's the scariest kind of all."

Depeche Mode's "Global Spirit Tour" kicks off on May 5 in Stockholm, with concerts scheduled throughout Europe and North America until the end of October.

 

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