depeche mode – ultra

yes, i am starting to miss more nights. it doesn’t mean i’m not listening to music – just not necessarily a different thing every day. but this returns me to another time, in about a hundred different ways.

it is as good an example as you can find of the ability of depeche mode to write great pop songs, even beyond their heyday of the 1980s and earlier 1990s. they’re a darker often creepy form of pop, which is what has always baffled me about how i even know their music – through my sister.

i can’t recall exactly when she started acquiring an appreciation for their music; or why. it didn’t make much sense – either way, whether it came on in the late 1990s (when this album was released), or the early 2000s when we were both first living in canberra, the themes in depeche mode were far more adult than i expected her to like. for instance, this album was recorded in spite of dave gahan’s severe heroin addiction.

in hindsight, i think they adapted well enough through each phase of music over at least 20 years, while maintaining their very clear identity, that meant they never really went out of fashion while existing somewhat outside and above that concept altogether. and that capacity to write extremely catchy songs is probably where their appeal, even to my sister, emanated. to be fair to her, as well, her appreciation was more of their mid-career albums that preceded this one.

the other notable element to having this in the collection is the extent to which i’ve already thus far found sonic and thematic references in a number of other albums that have been produced in the last few years. i hear in this album, even, the contemporary music of the time it was made and the equal homage bands were paying to depeche mode, such as nine inch nails.

i know more depeche mode songs than, at the age of 16, i would ever have predicted or wanted. but now, almost 20 years later, i don’t feel worse off for that. and i have only my sister to thank for that.


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