Music Time: Depeche Mode – “Higher Love”

I wrote about “Higher Love” by Depeche Mode for Cool Practice. A band playing to its strengths and obsessions, hard.

One Response to Music Time: Depeche Mode – “Higher Love”

  1. Terrific essay, Sean. You remember correctly–Songs of Faith and Devotion felt like a letdown, though I did see that tour and they sounded good, even if Gahan looked frighteningly thin. My take on it being a letdown is a little less about Gahan’s troubles, though he really sings like shit on some of those tracks. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that in Gore focusing less on programming and perfection and more on feel and traditional instruments like guitar and piano, along with the more overtly spiritual lyrics, it really puts more pressure on Gahan’s voice to carry it, and he’s not always up to the task. I mean, if you’re gong to do gospel, you need to be able to belt it out, right? I was just listening to this album a few nights ago after not hearing it for years and it’s better than I recall. Actually, the song that was the most different from their past work, “Condemnation,” is one of the most effective, with a song like “Rush” sounding like an insincere sop to the fans who need something danceable. “Judas” I find creepy, one of those, “I’m not going to go there with you, Martin” songs, but the weird thing with it is it keeps sounding like it’s going to bust open and become “Higher Love.” It seems to come froma similar place and, while I don’t like it on its own, it does create a need for release that “Higher Love” later satisfies.

    One other thing about the album being a letdown is that, up to that point, Depeche Mode were very effective at creating excitement for the album with a solid CD5 that had their first single and a bunch of diverse, cool remixes and b-sides that were good enough that you felt if this didn’t make the cut for the album, the album is going to be really good. “Stripped,” “Strangelove” and “Personal Jesus” all came out with mulitple versions and allowed you to really get into those songs for a month until the album came out. Songs of Faith & Devotion had a single for “I Feel You” that had remixes by groups like Helmet and Renegade Soundwave that not only didn’t sound much like the original version, they had very few vocals, so they ended up being these strange, vaguely related songs that didn’t sound much like Depeche Mode before or since.

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