Artist: Depeche Mode
CD Title: Heaven
Genre: synthpop/ new wave/pop
To the delight of Depechies world wide..DEPECHE MODE IS BACK!
Heaven...the evolution of a band.
Throughout their long and tumultuous history, Depeche Mode has stood the test of time. Much like Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and other popular 80's artists of that ilk, they understood that you have to change, evolve, reinvent yourself, and even experiment with new sounds and ideas in order to stay in the game. The sad state of music today, is that Depeche Mode's fans from the 80's expect them to keep producing the sound that they remember and that was the soundtrack to some of their fondest memories. Fans of Depeche from the 90's, expect the same and fans from 2000 until now, expect Depeche Mode to be the band they have grown up with, or in many cases for younger generations, an awesome band they might have just discovered. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that Depeche Mode can't be everything to everyone.
Sometimes when I write reviews, I like to read what other people are saying or thinking to get a footing on the mindset of Depeche Mode fans today. I discovered some really negative and mixed reviews. There are fans like myself who understand Depeche Mode's need for evolution but realise that if I got my way and they returned to their classic 80's sound, that some of us would be happy, but they would lose a lot of their fans post 80's. This would be largely in part because they might not be able to identify with that sound. People like me who were lucky enough to grow up with Depeche Mode from the beginning and have watched the ebb and flow of their vast career, can most probably understand my mode of thinking. I think at this point, Depeche Mode just wants to be musicians. They just want to make the music that they want to make. They have earned that right. Can you imagine how tyrannical record labels can be? A lot of them rule with an iron fist. They believe that based on charts and demographics, that they know better than the fans or even the artists themselves, what the general public wants. Many times their "power" overrides what the fans or the band want. As we have experienced so many times throughout our lives by observing the music industry, is that quite often the record labels are wrong. They make bad decisions that the band and the fans have to live with. You might have some romantic fantasy that Depeche Mode can just do as they please, but I can assure you, that this is not and never will be the case. Depeche Mode faced the harsh reality when they went from being musicians to marketable products in the very early days of their career. Songs like "Everything Counts" is a testament to that revelation. I'm sure that throughout their history, there were record company execs that got and understood what Depeche Mode wanted their music and message to be about, but there were many others who did not and simply played by the book. Evolution means change and sometimes change is good. But, like two sides of a coin, change can also be bad. Sometimes too much of a "good" thing can be a very bad thing, and vice versa. That being said, Depeche Mode is not trying to reinvent the wheel. They want their music to evolve as their lives evolve. So, as we evolve and grow, so must they. That is the purpose of evolution. The world, music, technology, life, are forever changing and growing and if we refuse to grow with it, then we are left behind in the dust to wither and die. To quote Abraham Lincoln “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
Now that everyone reading this understands that evolution also applies to bands and the music industry, I will move on to my review of Depeche Mode's latest offering "Heaven". As a collector, it infuriates me that there is very rarely ever just one CD that includes all of the mixes. Sometimes you have to buy two to five different CD's just to get all of the mixes, and in today's economy, that isn't very realistic. Unfortunately "Heaven" is the same case. If you are a collector, then you will need to buy several CD's and digital files in order to get the true "Heaven" experience. If you are a fan, but not a serious collector, then you need to buy a few CD's to clothe that naked space in your "basic" collection. If you like Depeche Mode, but don't really care for the remixes, then don't buy the single, just wait and buy the Deluxe CD of their highly anticipated 13th studio album Delta Machine.
Listen up Depeche devotees, fans and collectors, this part of the review is especially for you. There is a small handful of remixers that have tackled Depeche Mode's latest such as Freemasons, Owlle, Blawan and Matthew Dear vs. Audion. pure Depeche Mode fans will just want to stick to the original version and the new song "All That's Mine" which as I mentioned earlier, is included on the Deluxe version of the forthcoming album Delta Machine. "Heaven" quite simply sounds like it could have been included on their previous 2009 release Sounds of the Universe. A strong and emotional power ballad, nothing new or special, but indicative of the Depeche Mode sound of late. Of the lot, my favorite track is "All That's Mine" though it is a contemporary throwback to the classic 80's Depeche Mode synthpop sound, it is a haunting reminder of the Depeche Mode that once was. This will be the song that die hard 80's fans like myself will most probably gravitate towards. For those of you who like to collect the remixes, let's talk about what is on tap this time. As a big fan of dance music myself, I can honestly say that this time Depeche Mode hit it hard, right on the nail, by involving infamous UK production team Freemasons. This upbeat, electro house mix remains true to the actual single Heaven, but also takes it to new heights with one of the strongest and most appealing club mixes of Depeche Mode that I have heard in quite a long time. This will will fill the club charts and heat up international dance floors. Brilliant! Next up is French synth-pop artist Owlle's interpretation. Unlike Freemason's peak hour club anthem mix, Owlle decided to keep the integrity of the original album version, but added a darker, more sleazy late night groove. Owlle took some creative license with his mix by adding some angelic background vocals which adds a unique touch to the mix. Has that ever been done before in a Depeche Mode remix? Most intriguing... What goes up must come down, as is expertly displayed on these next two mixes. The Blazay..err I mean Blawan mix, is absolutely atrocious! Who invited this joker to the party? It sounds like he took the original record, added a heavy deafening bass, washed out anything that was good about the song, mixed it in a tin can while stomping hard on the ground in a pair of cheap combat boots. This goes to prove that any fool can get a computer program and call themselves a remixer. Avoid this mix like the plague. Pure rubbish. For shits and giggles, I listen to a few mixes of other artists that Blawan desecrated and they are simply awful. He is quite possibly the worst remixer I have ever heard and i've heard tons. If you have a record that you want ruined, this guy is your man. I think he either knew or blew someone at Mute in order to get this gig. In fact,from a lot of records I have heard coming off of Mute these days I think they have lost either their taste or hearing or both, in either case, I think they need to rename the label to Deaf Mute if they think unlistenable crap like Blawan is good. Hang the DJ..Indeed!
Last up, is the extremely forgettable Matthew Dear vs. Audion Vocal mix. It is ambient, chill out electronica, washed out vocals, a tribal esque club beat, high pitched tones, perfect to sleep to. In my opinion, it's Freemasons & Owlle or bust. But decide for yourselves which mixes move you most, that's what freedom of choice is for. Though Depeche Mode's latest single isn't bad, it certainly isn't Heaven. Hopefully Delta Machine will wield much greater promise.
After all this time Depeche Mode is still looking good. Watch their new video "Heaven".
BUY Heaven Maxi single (note: link below is for 2 track single, not Maxi)
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