It's not a mystery that people aren't happy with the state of politics in America. Things are so messed up, in fact, that U2's The Joshua Tree has messages that are relevant again after thirty years of its release! 1987 U2 aren't the only ones who have something to say, however. A band just as big from that era also has a bone to pick.
Depeche Mode calls for revolution in Spirit, their fourteenth album. There really isn't any subtlety on this record, and that's perhaps an understatement. From the start of the record, you're being hit hard with industrial synths plotting a riot. 'Going Backwards' is a big and angry track, its dark melody and rocking build creating a monster. It's a commentary on the blind conformity of people under a government, boldly claiming "We are not there yet / We have not evolved / We have no respect / We have lost control / We're going backwards / Ignoring the realities / Going backwards / Are you counting all the casualties." The damning lyrics are backed by a layered and constantly changing instrumental to make this song whole.
The upfront attacks don't end there. Immediately following is single 'Where's The Revolution,' which is at least ten times as direct. The synths sound with a subdued urgency, progressing darkly and broodingly before the chorus explodes with industrial synths and guitar as Dave Gahan roars "Where's the revolution? Come on, people, you're letting me down." The instrumentals also provide some anger - towards the end of the record is 'Poorman,' which starts off with some mor innocent synths before growing with pounding drums and monstrous guitar and synths. Its anger is subtle, but it really manifests itself in the devilish guitar.
Not all of this album is a tirade on politics - just most of it. 'Eternal' can be found at the center of the album, and it's an amalgam of haunting melodies and horrifying chords. This song is just genuinely creepy, as if Gahan was a ghost haunting someone he loved. The instrumental sounds like an organ cathedral put through a deep synthesizer, with occasional synth spirals bouncing in to add some color. The bluesy vibe of 'Poison Heart' is also worth mentioning, as well as the dramatic and atmospheric 'Cover Me.'
There aren't many places on the record that escape some form of anger. 'Scum' is up there with the angriest songs amongst the record, fully spitting on the subjects of the track. The pounding bass and dark nature of 'So Much Love' instill a sense of growing unease and rage that comes out with every individual blast of the kick drum. 'The Worst Crime' is a slower track that starts off very quietly in contrast to the first few tracks before building to a urgent track with lots to say.
In times of strife, we can look towards art to express our feelings. Artists will speak out against the wrongs they see through their music, and Depeche Mode calls for revolution in Spirit to overthrow a government they see unfit to rule. Trump really got them rustled. Despite their obvious rage, the channel it in the right ways and make music that seethes with rage without departing from their classic synthpop sound; only in this record, it is fused with industrial tones. Spirit is a challenging record to not only understand but to identify with, on any terms, but it is a great album that leads against a cause.
Favorite Tracks: Where's The Revolution, Eternal, Going Backwards, Poorman
Least Favorite Tracks: Scum
Rating: 89 / 100
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