Wherever you stand in the post-Brexit, post-Trump, post-facts era, one thing’s certain: the world hasn’t felt this messed up in decades. But while streets fill with protesters, the airwaves are strangely empty of dissenting voices. Sure, artists are speaking out, but few are putting their voice on record. Depeche Mode, however, are livid, and on their 14th album, they make no secret of it.
Full of rage and bile, its mood as dark as its lyrics, ‘Spirit’ is an album as focussed and incensed as anything they’ve ever done. This was clear from its first single, the rousing “Where’s The Revolution”. Greatly pitched at a gentle pace, its bubbling synths nonetheless do little to hide Dave Gahan’s anger. “Who’s making your decisions?” he spits as the first verse closes. “You or your religion? Your government? Your countries? You patriotic junkies…” A colossal chorus then kicks in as he poses a question many have been asking: “Where’s the revolution? Come on people!/ You’re letting me down”. Admittedly this raises the awkward issue of whether a multi-millionaire has the right to lecture people he acknowledges have been “kept down” and “pushed around”, but Gahan’s commitment to his wrath is unquestionable, and it’s evident throughout this empathetic, combative, but carefully measured collection. Indeed, it’s conspicuous, and right from the start. Against menacing piano chords and, later, a siren-like riff, Backwards finds Gahan reasoning “We’re going backwards armed with new technology/ Going backwards to a caveman mentality”.
“Worst Crime” sees him more sparsely accompanied, beating Nick Cave at his own game as he directs us: “There’s a lynching in the square/ You will have to join us”. Then he turns the tables, jabbing his finger at us to reveal the real culprits: “Step up to the gallows/ And act out your penance/ For acting so shallow”. “Scum” is even more accusatory, a bass drum pounding away as Gahan demands “Hey, scum! What have you ever done for anyone?”, before goading his targets to “Pull the trigger!”
Even in Spirit’s mid-section, when attention shifts to relatively apolitical matters, things rarely relent. “You Move” is characterised by an industrial, malevolent rumble, while a swelling tension matches the appealingly fluid “Cover Me” growing despair. On the brief “Eternal”, Gahan faces down an apocalyptic, symphonic climax; “Poison Heart” mood is undermined by metallic creaks and groans; and though “So Much Love” picks up the pace, Gahan’s assurance that “There is so much love in me” seems tragically far-fetched.
Soon, though, as the album approaches its zenith, tempers begin to flare once again. Despite “Poorman” starting out like a crowd-pleasing return to Depeche Mode’s expansive, anthemic strengths, accompanied by growling guitars and an increasingly crushing, militant backing – follows an ever more indignant path from descriptions of begging vagrants to the root cause of their penury: “Corporations get the breaks/ Keeping almost everything they make/ Tell us how long it’s going to take/ For it to trickle down…” To find an Electro Pop star addressing supply-side economics is notable enough, but, more admirably, the song’s tension is never resolved, not even by the comparatively conventional follower “No More”.
Affairs culminate in an apparently even bleaker state, Gahan’s restrained, high- pitched delivery rendering his voice uncommonly wretched. People, he pleads, “Do we call this trying? We’re hopeless!/ Forget the denying!/ Our souls are corrupt/ Our consciences bankrupt”. Then, in no uncertain terms, he concludes, mournfully, “Oh, we’re f***ed…”
But, though this may sound like a concession to defeat rather than a victorious climax, there’s something about the song’s closing 30 seconds that contradicts this. All sparkles and glimmers – somehow reminiscent of the moment in Blade Runner when Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty conjures up images of “attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion” – it packs the band off on a cautiously optimistic note.
Credit is, of course, due to James Ford for his role in making this one of the most forceful productions of recent years: the Mode has arguably never sounded grittier – nor more vicious, nor vital – than here.
Still, when one thinks about it, this is what Depeche Mode have always been aiming for: a subject to perfectly suit their glistening, ominous, futuristic creations. That they emerged from UKIP stronghold Essex may be no coincidence: ‘Spirit’ addresses some grand themes, but it appears to have emerged from genuine, heartfelt concern at both the state of the world and, more specifically, their country. They may begin by announcing that “We feel nothing inside”, and end with the words “We’ve failed”, but, whatever’s happening elsewhere, this cannot be said of the band. “Fail” was definitely my favorite song.
No question, Depeche Mode have succeeded. They sense what’s happening, they’ve articulated it gloriously, and ‘Spirit’ is a crucial statement, both musically and politically. The fact that they’re one of the first acts to truly encapsulate this mood is the only disappointment.
Electro-Pop Made In Canada, Listen To “Illusions” By Nouveaux
Discovering Nouveaux‘s music feels like finding a hidden treasure. The new band from British Columbia, Canada, plans to shape the future of Electro-Pop in the Land of the Maple Leaf.
Seriously, their debut single, “Illusions” is highly addictive to listen to. Not to mention, the accompanying visuals have a real retro-futuristic vibe, transcending time and space.
On the other hand, the charismatic vocalist Michelle Smolnicki turns her lyrics into a call to reflection on authentic love and fantasy. Loaded with desires of nostalgia and passion, “Illusions” could easily fit any mood or playlist.
Good jams are very underrated these days. Only those with good taste in music will notice this Electro-Pop project is an exceptional effort made in Canada which abounds in creativity.
Can’t wait to hear more!
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Exotic Electro-Pop Producer Sindresu Shares “Daydream” Single
Exotic Electro-Pop producer Sindresu has shared his recently released single “Daydream” via Sindresu Records. The Norwegian musician has previously had his music signed to the Swedish-American record label LoudKult and featured on the YouTube Tastemaker channel and Indie label ChillYourMind. In addition, he has had three of his singles, “Get Out of My Head,” “Sublime,” and “Weightless,” appear on the popular YouTube channel MrRevillz, while on air his music has received spins on Norway’s biggest radio station NRK P1 Radio. All in all, the accumulated support has helped him to reach just under 2 million streams across platforms.
Born in Sunndalsora, Norway, but based in Stockholm, Sweden, Sindre Saether Ulfsnes, also known as Sindresu, began his musical adventure at age of five, when he was taught to play the violin. Later, he picked up the guitar and sat down to learn the piano. Presently, in search of a signature sound, Sindre blends aspects of Tropical House, Future Bass, RnB, and Pop, while drawing influence from industry giants like Avicii, Big Wild, Flume, and Matoma to create music that one can compare to the work of Sam Feldt, Kygo, and Lost Frequencies.
Sindresu sets a feel-good mood with his new record ‘Daydream’. The Norwegian musician has created an upbeat tune that steals us away and transports us to a paradisal island, where we dip our toes in salty chords and lay beneath sun-baked vocals. Like the gentle crash of waves, the melodious record soothes, capturing a moment of picturesque tranquillity.
Describing the concept of the single, Sindresu says: “Daydream is about escaping reality during dark times and is inspired by a difficult period in my life. I experienced serious burnout, which left me with declined health for a time. This song tells the story of being stuck in an unfulfilling life and dreaming of better days. I had this entire song, vocal and instrumental, finished in my head before even starting to produce it, since I wasn’t able to work at the time. The vocals were written by me and performed by vocalist Clayton Jones.”
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With Fearless Originality Prince Woods Releases “butterfly”
The eclectic music from Prince Woods encapsulates Electronica and Pop textures showcasing his versatile taste as an artist. The lyric video for “butterfly” is part of a new adventure where his genuine creativity marks the difference.
Without a doubt, this track is peppered with personal emotions, glitch-like effects, and an infectious rhythm that gallops endlessly. Additionally, there’s also a punkish vibe/attitude which reflects his own signature sound.
Right off the bat, you’ll love how the high energy keeps up thanks to the pumping melodies and his soft vocals. Besides, it’s a joy and a real pleasure to hear such an original production from start to end.
Most importantly, if you’re into Hellogoodbye, Owl City, or Metro Station’s songs, then “butterfly” should get a space in your playlist. As a matter of fact, amassing thousands of streams per month on Spotify is already a milestone in his fast-growing career.
Prince Woods deserves way more appreciation since he continues to solidify his place as an innovator. Essentially, the freshness he offers through his compositions allows you to dive into a unique listening experience.
That being said, “butterfly” is not your typical radio-friendly tune, on the contrary, his singular approach is the reason why great feedback comes naturally.