Brooding, reflective and consistent, Depeche Mode charts Memento Mori as a moving and reflective album that charts the now two-piece in a state of grief. Rattling thumps and whining static open My Cosmos Is Mine and from there the album grows and flourishes. Electronic ruminations maintain a shattering piece. Harsh and unremitting but deeply, deeply moving pieces make up Memento Mori and the incredible perspective that lies within. Assured by belief in the wishes of their late bandmate Andy Fletcher, the remaining members of Depeche Mode push forth with a layered and often moving piece. They have considered their thoughts on The Seventh Seal, on the mortality ahead of them and the heavy-set imagery throughout Memento Mori is simply stunning.
Singles Ghosts Again and My Cosmos Is Mine lit the fuse of what to expect. Don’t Say You Love Me continues that quality, of beauty and corpses. Depeche Mode sound terrified of what lies ahead. Pangs of grief flow through the string-clad beauties of the Gore and Richard Butler-penned piece, one of many grand album cuts on offer here. Lush work on Soul With Me gives Depeche Mode another track to consider where they hope to head with the angels flying high. Some of it feels like a failure to mount a real response or consolidation of their feelings in the face of heartbreak, but Memento Mori comes across, in bulk, as genuine. Striaghtforward tones on Soul with Me still work and mount that same, solid theme, but more in the way of madness would certainly help.
That much was given on Scott Walker-styled Ghosts Again, a few notes and a trumpet later and Depeche Mode have their very own Seventh Seal. Instead, the pair begin to flounder around the midsection, the drab and unconvincing Caroline’s Monkey feels like a Pet Shop Boys B-Side and plays out like a demo. Falling is better than fading, but Depeche Mode find themselves in the latter on the Caroline’s Monkey misfire. Before We Drown picks up the pace though, a shimmering electronica piece that highlights the quality work of Marta Salogni and the percussion charms of James Ford. Hopeful track People Are Good does well to pool the balance between darker touches and lighter sincerity. Depeche Mode succeeds in defining that line and power through with consistency on Memento Mori, their first particularly notable album in some time.
Empty pieces of repetition take Memento Mori for a nosedive the pair thankfully recover from. Broadly ineffective People Are Good and the dull repetitions of Always You nearly derail this piece, but the harshness and metallic touches of Never Let Me Go are a stern reminder of where Depeche Mode are and how crucial an album this is both for their fans and for themselves. Touching moments of considerable weight are frequent and while not every moment is a heavy-hitting push for clarity and peace, Memento Mori has the intention, meaning and tone right there and as clear as those calm days Depeche Mode reflect on. It is never easy to consider legacy without self-effacing fluff, but Depeche Mode changes the form considerably with this. They understand not their placement as musicians, but as people. It is easy to forget that units of this longevity are just that, people. Memento Mori provides the inevitabilities of mortality with a touching, genuine effect. Album closer Speak To Me does just that, a tying of the two eras of influence Depeche Mode find themselves in. Quality electronics, considered mortality.