Ultra review

Nöjesguiden, March 31st 1997

The 10th or the 15th time the video for "Barrel of a Gun" is being played on ZTV (a swedish music channel), I'm wondering if people really hear what Dave Gahan is singing. "This horny creep, set upon weary feet/who looks in need of sleep that doesn't come. This twisted, tortured mess, this bed of sinfulness/longing for some rest and feeling numb, vicious appetite visits me every night/and won't be satisfied, won't be denied/an unbearable pain, a beating in my brain/that leaves the mark of Cain, right here inside/What am I supposed to do?"

An abstinence-gorging settlement with agony of death and desperation. Come on everybody, join in the chorus, one, two, three... It's hardly the first time that Martin Gore puts drastic lines in Gahans mouth, but it has never been so nakedly effective as now. And it is a completely brilliant song, probably one of the best singles of the year.

The rest of Ultra isn't as suggestive and strong. But coming from a band that really shouldn't exist, it's undeniably an impressive restart.

And it really is a restart, musically. The overworked rock from "Songs of Faith and Devotion" is gone, in aid for a much simpler, more peeled off sound, with definite echos from the past. Songs like "It's no good" and "Sister of Night" could almost be taken from "Some great Reward" or "Construction Time Again". And it even happened in the beginning, during the majestically sweeping "The Love Thieves", that I took out the cassette and checked that it wasn't the promotape of Prefab Sprouts new album that was in the tape recorder. The arrangements are simple, but effective like when a pedal steel-guitar strikes the tone in "The Bottom Line" - and Gahan sings the straight, rythmic lyrics with a dignity that's pretty awesome.

I can, occasionally, miss some of the variation from U2's latest achievement (Pop). But, as I said previously, coming from a band that's been down for 9, it's a very convincing victory on points.

Nöjesguiden, March 31st 1997

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