The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Depeche Mode's Delta Machine Track-By-Track Preview
Luke Turner , March 7th, 2013 05:00

Depeche Mode are back with their 13th album, and Luke Turner sits down with it for an instant, track-by-track appraisal

Add your comment »

'Welcome To My World'

Static... a power station whoomp... huge blasts... wait a minute, has someone put on a new album from the Raster-Noton label by mistake!? Depeche Mode's 13th studio album sure starts with one hell of a noisy, avant-techno surprise. But then Dave Gahan' quite delicate vocal comes in by way of a contrast "welcome to my world / leave your tranquilisers at home / you don't need them any more". Is this a State Of Depeche Mode? "All the drama queens are gone," he sings, "the Devil got this made". The track builds into a huge chorus refrain of "welcome to my world" as the noise keeps going, ripping and sounding very analogue with a pile of strings underneath. There's a lot of bluster here, but it holds up well. The devil/soul/bleed/dreams/control familiar Gahan themes.


This is the preview track that first announced Delta Machine via a video tour around the Depeche Mode studio a few months ago. It begins even heavier than 'Welcome…', the hardest textually since the Einsturzende Neubauten-inspired work with Gareth Jones during the mid-80s, and possibly more so. If there is any guitar here, it's heavily processed beyond the point of recognition. Gahan's histrionic gospel is great - "the angel of love is upon me" and lines about a "preacher on Sunday" suggesting a conflicted soul. 'Angel' sounds like Depeche Mode, but also nothing like Depeche Mode have ever sounded before.


I must admit I wasn't sure about this as a single. It felt a little too focussed at the mainstream American radio market, a little too much Lennon twisted into the piano, a little of Radiohead's 'Karma Police', and it's fair to say it is a marked contrast to that opening salvo. Still, it's not too much of a passion-killer as far as the sequencing goes, though fans of the tougher side of Depeche Mode will not be left hoping for more. Actually, the great thing about 'Heaven' is that it sounds like the sort of song U2 ought to be writing if they weren't constantly spinning songs out of a gigantic cloud of wind... and there's always that Blawan remix.

'Secret To The End'

The throbbing electronics do not spend too long away! Here, there's a really solid analogue burble, simple martial drum machine and a 'ping ping' as Gahan's vocals again build things up into an excellent, typically Depeche chorus. "The problems should have been you.. if it hadn't been me... the final contract expires soon / we've come to the end". It's really starting to feel as if some of the VCMG sonics have rubbed off on Depeche Mode. There's a great breakdown of drums and a one-note keyboard line before a properly snide and nasty finale, something bad going down in the drill hall.

'My Little Universe'

Another change here, starting with a percussive, awkward tone and Gahan is in croon mode - in fact, you could even imagine this coming from Thom Yorke as he sings "here I am king / I decide everything / I let no-one in". Musically it (aptly) is all fractured electronics like Four Tet or something, bleep bah bah boop boop. The track works precisely because of its considered use of space, and a wheezing, fruity workout. This is far from pompous or austere, and is entirely unlike anything Depeche Mode have ever done before.


...and here come the blues as we reach the halfway mark, and presumably it's Gore on the electric guitar. It fits perfectly with the rest of the album though thanks to the fact that it's electronics that still dominate, and the rhythm has quite a lascivious groove. It's apt, as Dave Gahan is getting sleazy here: "slow as I can go / That's how I like it / I don't need a race in my bed / the speed's in my heart / the speed's in my head". There's a noise in the background that sounds like one of those things you used to have that went 'wurgle' when you turned them up and down, but this one belongs to a naughty robot.


This harks back to tracks like 'Behind The Wheel', with clipped syn drums and dark purpose via some interesting echo effects in the background. Guitar features here as Gahan sings about innocence ("do you remember a time without tears") and offers to rescue the protagonist from their predicament in an understated chorus "you were falling / I will catch you / you don't have to fall that far". It's a bit different from what he was offering in 'Question Of Time' anyway.

'The Child Inside'

This almost feels like a part two to 'Broken' with the cheering gambit "there is darkness and death in your eyes / what have you got buried inside / the shallow grave in your soul"… and gets bleaker "you really should have dug a little deeper there / body parts are starting to appear and scare / the child inside away". It's another very simple track, booming bass, what might be wind in treetops, strings, vocals that almost feel a little hymnal in inspiration, a scythe of sci fi now and then, and a spooky forest at the end as the lyrics get even bleaker: "you knew you should have taken all your dolls to bed / but you were made to play games with your soul instead / the child inside has died." It's the quietest track on the album, and perhaps the most cleverly constructed.

'Soft Touch / Raw Nerve'

WHUMP! A leathery monster! All stab, no flab, drums banging away mercilessly, synths like a finger running over glistening, wet skin, and a deliciously camp Depeche chorus: "oh brother! Give me a helping hand". You could almost argue that, with its rough backing vocals and general exuberance, it's about the most carefree pop song Depeche Mode have done since their earliest years while still being married to what's becoming Delta Machine's characteristic tough production. Pass the poppers, Fletch old boy!

'Should Be Higher'

This starts off as the murkiest track yet with a purposeful 4/4 whip-crack beat. There's now no doubt that Delta Machine is the the darkest and most violent Depeche Mode material in years. Lyrically, the title and lyrics of holes in infected arms and lies , succumbing to bliss and so on suggest another addition to the DM canon of songs that might be about smack, or love, or both. There's another sky-straining chorus that makes this brilliant stadium pop, and yet more evidence of the weakness of the Anglo Saxon ear. Across Europe, from Volgograd to Turin, Helsinki to Lodz they'll come in their thousands for songs as mighty as this... while here in Britain we like to watch Coldplay and Muse. The disgrace of our nation.


A low, galloping drumbeat, train-coming-off-the-rails-in-a-b&w-film synth melody, more crunchy rhythms - all in all a decidedly excellent tumult. "I couldn't save your soul"... Gahan has been apologising for this sort of thing for years now, and it still hasn't lost its edge. Musically it's further proof that here Depeche Mode have resisted the urge to over-polish everything. 'Alone' is a guttural, ragged creature with a really nice sountracky conclusion. Seeing this album played live is going to be interesting - if some Depeche Mode gigs of recent years have lacked the power of what was captured on, say, the 101 recordings, there's just no way you can do this album justice without opening up the afterburners and making it sound massive.

'Soothe My Soul'

Another up-beat, techno-pop number, and this one is very much like a deconstructed VCMG in feel. Gahan has adapted to this well - "I come to your house / I break down the door" he thunders, and it goes all helicopters before... rather surprisingly... a bollock-busting stomper of a chrous drops in. Dave has the horn! Here he is! See those leather trousers stretch! "I'M COMING FOR YOU! THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO SOOTHE MY SOUL" he cries, rather cheekily. All credit is due to leaving the new 'Personal Jesus' right to the penultimate track of the album. A classic, classic Depeche Mode track, this, they've really pulled it off here.


After all that, a cowboy song?! "It was you who took my soul and threw it on the fire". This is blues-influenced yes, but again the acoustic guitar is perfectly embedded in the electronics and as the track progresses a great twinkling synth part sits over Gahan's vocals. You might have expected 'Goodbye' to be some kind of ballady coda, but no, they've kept it rigid right up to the end.

So this is only an instant, snap appraisal, and who knows, repeated listens may reveal flaws. But for now, Delta Machine roars out of the traps as a supremely confident album by a reinvigorated, inventive Depeche Mode. It isn't, of course, VCMG with vocals, and there are threads here from the more recent albums. But texturally this is a very rich electronic record, rough around the edges and a huge amount of fun - there is some of the campest Depeche Mode material in here since their earliest days. I'd hazard to guess that my initial assessment of this as the best, most powerful, gothic, twisted, electronic album since Violator.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

Mar 7, 2013 1:12pm

I WANT IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

Reply to this Admin

Mar 7, 2013 1:54pm

In reply to Woody:

Tomorrow won't do.

Reply to this Admin

Mar 7, 2013 3:48pm

Gahan singing is improving with time

Reply to this Admin

Mar 7, 2013 5:28pm

Awesome! I can't wait, it's going to be epic!

Reply to this Admin

Mar 7, 2013 6:18pm

Bring it on I need to feed my soul.

Reply to this Admin

Vinnie Massimino
Mar 7, 2013 8:23pm

"Since" Violator, the statement in every Depeche Mode album since.. Violator.

Reply to this Admin

Mar 7, 2013 10:22pm

In reply to Vinnie Massimino:

if this was a The Cure album it would read 'since Disintegration'
if this was a David Bowie album it would read 'since Scary Monsters'
and so on...

Reply to this Admin

Mar 7, 2013 11:15pm

I cannot wait for the new album!

Reply to this Admin

Mar 8, 2013 1:32am

Omg....I can't wait for this!!!!! I want it now! DM The best band & the band of my life.

Reply to this Admin

Mar 8, 2013 1:32am


Reply to this Admin

Mar 8, 2013 2:36am

Maybe a full on review would work better, instead of a t by t? Anyways, DM have been sliding downwards since you know, Vio...

Reply to this Admin

Rob Valenta
Mar 8, 2013 9:06am

Great review and can't wait to get the album. However, I'm 'concerned' Delta will sound too much like the two previous album as core production team is the same - analogue vs electronic. Never mind, the lads have rightfully earned the freedom to whatever they feel like, and I'll always be 100% behind them.

Reply to this Admin

Mar 8, 2013 6:19pm

An encouraging review, but... how are the chord progressions? Melodies? They have suffered in recent DM albums. If Delta brings them back, then a "best since Violator" tag may be deserved - if not, then thanks but no thanks.

Reply to this Admin

David Barratt
Mar 8, 2013 7:47pm

This should debut around the world at #1..OK, maybe not in UK..

Reply to this Admin

peter m
Mar 8, 2013 10:38pm

Great, fantastic and perfect review & NEWS....theboys are back

Reply to this Admin

Mar 9, 2013 9:19am


Reply to this Admin

richard earl
Mar 9, 2013 6:19pm

Cant wait to get the new album.and to see them live in Germany in the summer-Just a question of time!

Reply to this Admin

Adrian Bold
Mar 9, 2013 7:46pm

Great review and can't wait for the album and to see the band at the O2 again. Loved the line in your review "...while here in Britain we like to watch Coldplay and Muse. The disgrace of our nation". So true. :-)

Reply to this Admin

Christopher B. Pederson
Mar 11, 2013 6:23am

Thank you so much for this breakdown of the album - building the anticipation of another one-of-a-kind album by the one and only DM!! I am very excited for another addition to this stupendous band's amazing stockpile of songs. These musicians can do no wrong - this new body of work will be nothing but fascinating and fun. I pray for the health and energy of Martin, David, and Andy. May God bless them with all they hope to receive and communicate through this album. May they feel the love of their devoted fans . . . and a great gargantuan 'thank you' to them.

Reply to this Admin

Dave K.
Mar 18, 2013 6:51pm

People who claimed Playing the Angel was their best album since Violator seemed to have forgotten about Songs of Faith and Devotion. People who claimed Sounds of the Universe was their best album since Violator seem to once again forgotten about Songs of Faith and Devotion. I feel Luke Turner, here, is another one of those people forgetting about Songs of Faith and Devotion when closing this review out with "this as the best, most powerful, gothic, twisted, electronic album since Violator."

Reply to this Admin

Darren Hastings
Mar 20, 2013 8:57am

Finally an album that returns us kicking and screaming to both Violator and SoFaD. For me the best album they've ever released.

Reply to this Admin

Mar 23, 2013 1:53pm

Counting down the days to the album release! Check out this new video "Inside Delta Machine": So glad Depeche Mode are back!

Reply to this Admin

Andy C
Apr 15, 2013 9:07am

In reply to Amanda:

Still waiting for the full review!!

Reply to this Admin