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updated: 3/27/2013 12:38 PM

Depeche Mode evolves, but doesn't violate past

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  • Depeche Mode, "Delta Machine"

      Depeche Mode, "Delta Machine"

 
Associated Press

Depeche Mode, "Delta Machine" (Columbia Records)
If you haven't caught up with Depeche Mode since "Catching up With Depeche Mode" or other collections from the band's 1980s and early '90s heyday of synthesizer-drenched, impossibly addictive pop, it's time to check in.

The British modern rock trio's 13th studio album, "Delta Machine," presents a group that's older, wiser and evolving. There's not, at least on initial listens, an abundance of hooks. While the ear-candy quotient might be lower than on records of yore, the result encourages -- and often rewards -- deeper listening.

The men who once made many music fans fear the demise of the guitar have become masters of their electronic machines -- in part by recognizing when less is more. The spare, industrial start of "Welcome to My World" gives way to the strains of choral string sounds in a section that sonically and lyrically recalls 1990's "World in My Eyes." "Broken" opens with disjointed, tinny sounds that retreat to the background and provide a discordant twist to an otherwise catchy, straightforward chorus.

Other standouts include the more traditionally modal "Secret to the End," with a theatrical lead vocal by frontman Dave Gahan, and the bluesy, snaky "Slow."

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