Ultra release party review,

Better than most, Depeche Mode illustrate the reversal of pop's glory, from chic to shit, from despair to nowhere. At the heart of their sorry downward spiral lies the career-threatening almighty mistake that so often paralyses even the most inspired groups. The curse of credibility.

You can see it happening, right now, in the plight of both Mark Owen and Robbie Williams. Forced out of their natural habitat by a rapacious, moronic media, they both feel the need to "correct" their past identities and to contrive a new, acceptable image. The mistake is twofold: 1) that you, the public, should insist on a false, conservative notion of "credibility" in the first instance, and 2) that Mark and Robbie should look for this by befriending an unsightly bunch of shitpop shovellers and, in the words of a thousand Your Shout writers, "go all indie", a metamorphosis which carries no intrinsic worth at all.

They'll never learn. But it will probably be too late. With Depeche Mode, however, the rot has already set in. To me, they will forever be an electrified thrill, the chief innovators of a new pop, spraying out tunes that got buzzed insanely. A major reason to look back in wonder at the years 1981-1985. Over a deacde later, they really are no good. As they slither and grovel like rock beasts through tonight's mini-set, the last nail is spitefully driven in.

This isn't some half-baked longing for groups to remain as they were when I was young. It's just that Dave Gahan has grown up to live all the rock myths that his group, and their cheap, frilly pop used to piss all over. Their, ahem, self-discovery has been represented only in a hideously dark, gutteral rock vocabulary and sound, which falls foul to the cliche that confessional and troubled lyricism can only be mirrored by gruesome, twisted music. "Barrel Of A Gun" certainly convinces you that Gahan's life has been insufferable recently, but it's impossible to care when the pathos is smothered by polluted slabs of synth-carnage. Electronic music, and especially electro-pop, has yet to full release itself fully from the grip of industrial, keyboard-trashing horror. It is this legacy that continues to undermine Depeche Mode; thier simplistic assimilation of techno-grunge merely distorts to the truth in a crass, black pantomime.

I just can't take them seriously. Tonight, I just don't get enough.

Melody Maker, April 26th 1997

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