Depeche Mode releases ‘Memento Mori’ with potential for a nostalgic end to the band’s career

Written By Ana Bellamy, Staff Writer

I have been a lifelong fan of Depeche Mode. I grew up listening to their music, along with many other countless 80s alternative bands. The industrial sounds and samples, along with the lyrics, and Dave Gahan’s strong, baritone voice provides me and many other fans with comfort, regardless of how dark and deep the subject matter is. With every album they release, I cherish and celebrate it as if it is their last. Their latest release, “Memento Mori,” shares the themes of immortality, love, religion, doubt, and the celebration of life all of which are encompassed by the usual background noise of unique electronic and synthetic ambience.

The album was started in 2020 during the pandemic. Founding member, keyboardist, and beloved friend Andy Fletcher passed away in 2022, leaving the head songwriter Martin Gore and lead singer Dave Gahan to continue with the recording process a few weeks after his death. The recording of this album made it possible for Dave Gahan and Martin Gore to process their emotions in a healthy way and was able to create a fresh and innovative album that fans are calling their best album in years. 

Even though the common Depeche Mode sounds are still there, this fifteenth album is different from the others.  For the first time in the band’s career, another famous songwriter lent a hand in the making of the album. Lead songwriter and composer Martin Gore started writing songs with Richard Butler, the dynamic lead singer and lyricist of The Psychedelic Furs. Initially, the songs were to be put out on a side project, but luckily, Gore decided to use ”Ghosts Again”, “Caroline’s Monkey”, “My Favorite Stranger”, and “Don’t Say You Love Me” for this album. Dave Gahan also decided to take the lead in composing a few songs himself, something that is rare. 

The hauntingly beautiful and tragic first single, “Ghosts Again”, speaks on the inevitability of death. Gore’s voice can be heard as an haunting echo, shadowing Dave Gahan’s solemn vocals, which creates the classic harmonies that has been heard frequently in Depeche Mode’s discography. The songs “Caroline’s Monkey” and my favorite “Never Let Me Go” bring back familiar sounds from previous albums. “Caroline’s Monkey” has odd lyrics, but serves as a nice break from slower intense songs.  “Never Let Me Go” is a fast track that consists of the old Depeche Mode synths, a punchy drum beat, and Martin Gore’s simple, yet striking guitar playing that gives the song an exciting edge. The last song on the album “Speak to Me” is a conversation between Dave Gahan and his inner voice, discussing the struggle between being an introverted person and the loneliness that comes with it in contrast with the eagerness of wanting to be with people. This song, along with the themes of life and death, have been resonating with people post-pandemic. 

There have been rumors of this album being the final one in their discography, following the death of Andy Fletcher and the now-duo’s growing aspiration to take it easy after 40 years worth of albums, touring, and a fair share of addiction, heartbreaks, and near-death experiences. If this is truly the end of Depeche Mode, it is a beautiful end to a long and successful career.