While I was recovering from seeing Bush this Tuesday, I found that Depeche Mode have finally returned after six years with a new song “Ghosts Again” that heralds the coming of a new album Memento Mori. Depeche Mode is a band I was always kind of “only aware of” before I met the Rock Chick. I’d hear “Personal Jesus” or “A Question of Lust” on the radio and always liked those tracks. I don’t know why I didn’t delve deeper? Then I met the Rock Chick and she was a huge Depeche fan. She really deserves credit for turning me onto them. I went from being the most casual fan to becoming a huge fan which culminated in me seeing them twice on the Spirit tour in 2017 both in Denver and Tulsa. They were amazing in concert.
I thought Spirit was an absolute late-career masterpiece. It was a dark reflection of very dark times in the world. Much has changed for Depeche Mode since that album. Founding member and perhaps the nicest guy in the band Andy Fletcher, simply “Fletch” to millions, passed away last year. Singer Dave Gahan and guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Martin Gore decided to soldier on without Fletch. I read that they had started recording Memento Mori prior to Fletch’s passing and I hoped that there would be some of Fletch’s keyboard on the record – like the Stones are saying there will be drumming from Charlie Watts when/if they release their new album – but alas, Fletch didn’t play on this album.
It’s hard to hear this song and read the album title without thinking that mortality and Fletch’s loss isn’t weighing heavily on Depeche Mode’s mind. Memento Mori is Latin and it roughly translates to “remember that you have to die.” And people think I get heavy in my writing sometimes. Even the artwork for the album cover seems to recall a funeral. It’s a picture of two flower arrangements in the shape of angel’s wings. Gahan sings in “Ghosts Again.” “A place to hide the tears that you’ve cried, everybody says goodbye.” I have to admit, I lost a dear friend of mine a month ago and his memorial was last Saturday so this song hits me a little different than most people. The new video for the song is a take on Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal that tells the story of a knight during the Black Plague who plays a game of chess against Death… talk about heavy stuff.
I really like this song. It’s on the mellow end of the spectrum. The keyboards are absolutely lovely. A ballad where they say goodbye to Fletch, whose not going to like that? Gahan, as usual, is in wonderful voice. I like how Martin Gore plays guitar – it’s always reminded me of the Edge from U2 – its more about mood and tone instead of shredding. “Hello’s, goodbyes, a thousand midnight’s lost in sleepless lullabies.” Such beautiful lyrics. The keyboards build throughout the song. You can hear the pain in Gahan’s voice. Here is the video:
I don’t usually comment on videos, but I just have to say, I love the walking sticks with the shiny skull heads.
I’m always curious about how bands pick their first singles. While I like “Ghosts Again” it is a curious choice for a first single. It’s very mid-tempo at best. I always like to look back three or four albums at a bands’ first singles and compare. If we look back to 2005’s Playing the Angel the first single was “Precious.” I absolutely loved that song. It ranks amongst Depeche Mode’s finest work in my opinion. The stabbing keyboards bore into my brain.
2009’s Sounds Of The Universe the first single was “Wrong.” I love how they sing the title at the first of the song. It reminds me of my parents when I was a kid. After repeating the word “wrong” several times the song kicks in for real. Over an almost funky cacophony of sound Gahan passionately delivers the vocals. It again, is one of their greatest songs.
From 2013’s Delta Machine Depeche also chose a ballad, the aching “Heaven.” Again, this song is one of their best. It’s a tearjerker of a tune. With this tune, Depche proved you can release a ballad and get away with it. Martin Gore’s harmony vocal makes the song.
Finally, from late career masterpiece Spirit, Depeche Mode went big with the anthem, “Where’s the Revolution?” This song grabbed me immediately. It was the perfect song for 2017. It set the tone for what was a spectacular album.
Will we look back on “Ghosts Again” as one of their finest songs – as we do these four fabulous previous first singles? Only time will tell. Or as Sammy Hagar once stupidly sang, “Only time will tell if we stand the test of time.” Think about that lyric for a while. All I can tell you is that Depeche have been on an absolute roll in this millennium. I was only turned onto this band around 2000 and every album they’ve put out since then has delivered. I think there will be a diversity of sound on Memento Mori but I doubt there will be a shortage of dark tunes like “Ghost Again.”
I’m so happy Depeche has decided to keep going. My heart goes out to them over their fallen comrade Fletch. I look forward to the album and can’t wait to see Depeche Mode, who at this point feel like old friends, again on a stage near me.
4 thoughts on “New Song Alert: Depeche Mode, “Ghosts Again” From The Upcoming LP ‘Memento Mori’ – Understated Requim For Fletch?”
I’m surprisingly liking this album!
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