I really tried to like the newer Depeche Mode albums but I don’t know – maybe that time has just passed for me and my taste in music has changed, or maybe their style has changed (or not changed enough), or they’ve lost some of their bite and grip?
Anyway, “Ultra” from 1997 remains the last album that really clicks with me. It is more varied than “Songs of Faith and Devotion” and sounds more lively and organic than “Violator”. And then I realized that 1997 was 21 years ago. Yikes! So when I say “newer Depeche Mode albums”, it’s relative to my age… 😛
Considering that Ultra was made during what was probably a rather dark period of the band’s time, I think it is surprisingly good (or is that why it is good?). It has more abstract instrumental tracks that perhaps reminisce some of Alan Wilder’s influence (Uselink, Jazz Thieves, Junior Painkiller), extremely accessible pop tracks (No Good, Insight), the mandatory ballads (Home, The Bottom Line) – and darker tracks that lean slightly towards industrial. Those are actually my personal favorites of the album – Useless, but most of all the opener, Barrel of a Gun: