As a whole, Spirit may be Depeche Mode’s best album since Violator. But does that make it a magnificent achievement? I’m not sure. It’s also a political statement, which tries to be relevant, and sometimes it succeeds, but it doesn’t feel as sincere as it should. It’s like treating Lady Gaga as the queen of alternative music. It does not feels accurate. However, musically it has a coherency that was lacking in some of the previous DM’s records, making it really appealing.
I didn’t love Spirit‘s lead single Where’s the Revolution?, but I found it as a brave suggestion of the things that we may hear on the album. And I got Going Backwards or Scum. It’s no A Paint That I’m Used To, or In Chains, but they try… They try to sound alive, raw, electronic (even techno – a pinch of Kraftwerk? Faithless?), while maintaining their signature soulfulness, vastness and melancholy like in Cover Me. Depeche Mode throughout the years had this magnificent ability to use synth sound, techno aesthetics, and mournful bluesy guitars, which resulted in this specific, dark mixture of dancefloor angst. And oh my, just listen to You More or Fail…
First of all, Spirit is a political manifestation of our contemporary times. But beside that, it’s also an electronic continuation of their previous records, but with an attempt to sound rebellious. There’s much more raw sound, radical interludes, harsh synthesizers, intense rhythms, but without one, outstanding track, which might be considered a signature mark.
But that’s not the point. There’s no point in picking out one track. Spirit is an album, and was recorded as one. And it’s more of an album than any other Depeche Mode’s recordings since 1991. We don’t have 12 separate songs, but one album with distinct atmosphere, and very specific main theme of rebelliousness and contempt.
Spirit is a very solid album, full of great songs, but I fear that they’ll blend in Depeche Mode’s discography without much significance. But when you think of it as an LP, a concept album, it makes a powerful statement in band’s career. My only regret is that Spirit doesn’t sound more like its bonus tracks from deluxe version. Well, that would be rebellious as hell.