Side-Line Music Magazine

Your TOP 10 wishes for a new Depeche Mode album

On Friday we asked our readers via various social media what they’d like to hear on the new Depeche Mode album. We selected 10 wishes/desires from that list.

Some wishes we post below will not surprise you, some other might sound less familiar. Let’s see if you agree with what fellow fans expect from a new Depeche Mode album. For the die-hard fans, this is what other fans think, you might disagree or agree.

The answers you will find here were taken from tweets, Facebook comments and mails we received since Friday. If you (don’t) agree, then feel free to leave your comments in the comment field below each ‘wish’.

1. Bring back Alan Wilder

Well, that wasn’t a surprise wish, and it’s also the one posted the most. Here’s what fans have to say about their dream to see Alan Wilder join Depeche Mode again.

Mike Jordan: “His arrangements and studio production really made DM what they were. Not interested in Dave’s latest album with the Soulsuckers and would hope that album serves as a vehicle for his ‘I’m a blues man’ streak and that is fully exercised before they gather to write new material.” But many people also realise that this will never happen. Mike Jordan: “I know he’s not going to come back. I’ve had the conversation with him a few years ago when he came through Texas as Recoil. Twice. Once in Austin and again in Dallas. We chatted during load-in and before the doors opened about various things, some sort of involvement with DM on a regular basis, and his reply was a very kind, “no”. But it’s that ear for arrangements and composition that really made the difference for the band early on and especially as they learned to trust him more in a production role. Find THAT. That is what has slipped away from them.”

A few other fans disagree with the call for Alan Wilder, such as Rocky Costanzo: “Thank God the guys in the band don’t live in the past like the fans do. If they gave the fans what they wanted (Violator parts 2,3,4) their careers would’ve ended years ago just like all of those other 80’s new wave bands. Bringing back Alan is NOT going to take DM back to the Violator days. It’s over, people. Alan has been gone for 20 years. He walked out. He quit. Let it go and take some time to actually listen to their new material instead of hoping that the 80’s are coming back. Playing the Angel, SOTU and Delta Machine are all solid DM albums!”

But for many Alan Wilder remains the key to good music, and that’s not all. Bob Meyer: “First, you bring back Alan and make an album that is a cross between Black Celebration and Music for the Masses. And then for the best part, have a Pre-Violator Tour for the Masses!!! maybe even another 101 movie to end up at the Rose Bowl again.”

A few female fans saw something more than just music in a possible return of Alan Wilder. Amanda Stock: “(My) wet dream? Wilder. Clean shaven.”

2. Ben Hillier has to go, Trent Reznor should get in

For many fans British songwriter and pop-rock music producer Ben Hillier has to go. But some also have a replacement read: Trent Reznor. Bree Patton: “No more Hillier. Shake things up with a new producer. I’m going to buck the trend and say that it might be an interesting exercise to get Trent Reznor. He’ll fill the need for a darker sound, can play any instrument DM might use, and I think he and Martin would nerd out over equipment.”

Also Johan Vanderhoeven thinks this: “Trent Reznor as producer! He knows their past, he can create the dark atmosphere… But I’m afraid it’s 100% utopic.”

But not everyone seems to blame Hillier. In a mail Svetlana Gorona says: “I find it strange that Hillier is able to get such a crap album like Delta Machine leave his production table whereas he was able to mix such a beauty like the 2009 album “In This Light and on This Evening” by The Editors. My fear is that the band simple is no longer capable of writing good music.”

The suggestion from Stefan Albinsson might be a good idea to see who is right: “Release the analogue version of the recording and don’t let Ben Hillier close to the band.”

3. Back to basics

For many fans the last few Depeche Mode albums are no longer what the band was about.

Says Yves Besson: “I don’t understand why they keep on saying they experiment with sounds. They don’t, it all sounds pre-programmed. Where are the sound sculptures and different approaches they had over the years? It’s all gone in the same blob which makes every album since “Exciter” sound exactly the same: uninspiring, boring to the point I have stopped buying their material and now just check Spotify in the false hope they get their shit back together. “Delta Machine” was so bad I was over happy I didn’t spend money on that release at all.”

A few other fans just want to go straight back in time. Tiffany Neylan: “I would love to see a combination of “Black celebration”/”Music for the masses”/”Violator” return, but it ain’t gonna happen, so let’s just move on.”

Scott Campbell words it like this: “A retro fitted album fit lyrically for today would be a nice resurgence of GOOD music.”

4. More SOFAD please!

When “SOFAD” was released, many old school fans complained there was too much rock in the album. Overtime though this critic has changed into an appreciation of the album, the songs and the production (although some still are not convinced by “Condemnation” though). Remarkably that album has been mentioned quite a few times as being the perfect basis “to get Depeche Mode back on the right track” as Ellen Houvist says.

Rich Hlava says: “I would so much love the 14th album to be a Delta Meets Devotions. The smokin’ rock sounds of SOFAD combined with the nostalgic electronics of Delta Machine. “Should Be Higher” from Delta Machine is perhaps my all-time favorite Depeche Mode song. So, of course, an entire album with the sounds of “Should Be Higher” Would Boost Me Higher!”

Ricardo Menzo described his disillusion with the latest Depeche Mode album (in order to get the band into a more SOFAD styled direction) as follows: “(We translated his mail from Spanish) “Listening to “Delta Machine” I don’t know what bothers me the most. The appalling songwriting? The bad bland singing? The lousy production? But one thing is sure, if you get the production and singing sound of SOFAD into the mix, I might just start to like what I hear. Until then, Depeche Mode sounds like yet another rock band lacking an own identity.”

5. Dave Gahan should sing ‘normal’ again

Frontman Dave Gahan has drastically changed his singing style over the past few albums and that’s not always welcomed. Dan Shillcutt: “Dave should go back to his original singing style that’s more abrupt. I’m not a fan of his lounge-esque style he’s been doing over the last few years. I’m sure to get flack for saying it.”

He is not the only one having problems with Gahan’s recent singing style. Christian Harris: “Dave (should) stopping doing Elvis impressions.” Julia Götner phrased it as follows: “I remember sitting in my car listening to “Violator” or “SOFAD” singing along with Dave. But Since “Exciter” there are only a few songs which have that sing-along element in them. Most of the other songs are fillers that if it weren’t for Depeche Mode would never make it to a decent album. I mostly remember “Lilian” as being a good old singalong. But that’s just one of a very short list of songs after so many years. I no longer play the complete albums after “Ultra” but instead made a compilation of 7 tracks that I can still sing on… That’s sad and is especially due to Dave’s horrible singing, moaning is the closest what it sounds to me.”

6. Take Flood back on board

Apart from Alan Wilder many posted that they would really like to see Flood filling with the studio production gear. Surprising because in 2013, Flood worked with Depeche Mode, being responsible for the mixing process of their album “Delta Machine”, which was produced by Ben Hillier.

Yuma Tripp: “I’d say bring back Flood to produce, and Alan Wilder and Vince Clarke to guest write and perform. The Depeche Mode all-stars if you will. Oh, and the should take some queues from artists like The Weeknd and Beacon.”

Also Μιχαήλ ὀξύμωρον is inclined to go for Flood (and Alan Wilder): “Seal came back to Trevor Horn. DM to seek production from Flood and Alan Wilder.” For Fabio De Seta “Trentemøller as a producer” would be a right fit.

During his career the 55-year old producer Flood aka Mark Ellis worked with acts like New Order, U2, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Ministry, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Erasure, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey, A-Ha, Sigur Rós, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers, and Warpaint. His co-production collaborations have included projects with Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Steve Lillywhite, and longtime collaborator Alan Moulder, with whom he co-founded the Assault & Battery studio complex. In 2006, his work with U2 led to his sharing of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

Something which not many people know, he also worked for Stevo’s Some Bizarre Records label, leading to work with Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV, and Marc Almond’s side project, Marc and the Mambas.

7. Look for inspiration at IAMX

Simon Worboys had a rather interesting wish: “Get them to listen to IAMX’s new album – that’ll answer it.” The last IAMX album was this year’s “Metanoia” album. It is the sixth studio album by IAMX, the solo musical project of Chris Corner, formerly of the band Sneaker Pimps.

To date, IAMX has released 6 studio albums, all of which have been released independently and produced by Corner (“The Unified Field” was co-produced by Jim Abbiss).

8. No more Las Vegas

A lot of hands apparently have enough of the rock attitude Depeche Mode displays today. Here are some of the remarks we received.

Says Bernd Kohnen: “(I) hope they go back to their roots instead of being just another rock band with synthesizers.” That’s also what Christian Harris thinks: “(They should) stop sounding like a pub band, (and ) Dave (should) stopping doing elvis impressions. (They should) tighten up the sound, lose ‘most’ of the guitars, stay faithful to the album versions, don’t play the zephyr mix of “In your room”, use a drum machine for “World in my eyes”, not attempt heavy metal versions of “Black celebration”, return to proper backing vocals, replace Gordeno with someone who will stay faithful to the timing and arrangement, use the correct samples/synth patches (Alan made them freely available!), reflect electronica and not rock, have an awesome stage like World Violation or Devotional. That is all.”

Bernard Ryan: “Less blues vibe, less “Leaving Las Vegas” vibe. Faster catchier melodies, Interesting electronics/synths, Alan Wilder (or Brian Eno maybe?) would be great as most other people are saying here. So when are they aiming to release it 2016 or 2017?”

John Edwards wants “songs, melodies and harmonies instead of endless electro-blues jamming…”

9. Just give us good songs

This is probably one of the most remarkable wishes we received. Fans want good songs, don’t we all. Thomas Esselman: “Can I hope for one song that isn’t bland?”

But what is a good song? Here’s what you think. Ladislao Mendoza: “They’re great no matter what, but I miss the wonderful melodies and deep dark compositions from the genial Martin Gore surrounding the whole albums creating real art pieces!” And Henri Sizaret adds that the band should focus on “less introspective winning.” Andreas Noreen wants the new track to be “harder, faster and electronic” where as Billy Dojcak say she wants the new material to be “upbeat and with synthesisers – guitars gotta go.” That’s also what Rob Harvey seems to think: “Less blues rock by a mile.”

Carlos Peres: “I don’t want hits, I just want good songs that you can relate too. Nowadays they sound like some hipster act high on prozac. It really hurts listening to what they produce these days. This material is no way representative of Depeche Mode and it would have been musical suicide had they released this early in their career. But these days some fans accept whatever they get thrown at them.” That is also what Theresa Saywers mails us: “Some die hard fans really have lost every insight in music and just swallow whatever garbage they get thrown at them. That’s a sad evolution because a real flow would open their eyes.”

If that’s so sure is questionable says Will Boiders: “I seriously doubt that the past few Depeche Mode albums have been commercial successes. But why would they care, they know there are a bunch of people to buy concert tickets whatever they release. And we have had our fair share of rubbish the past 2 decades.”

10 Just stop

For same fans there is “no salvation” (we quote Boiden Berzin). Berzin: “Do you really think that they will suddenly change the musical direction they have chosen for the past few albums? They are on automatic pilot now and you really hear that in the songs they decided to release. Forget the experiments, forget the critical ear. They just want to cash in every few years and who cares if it’s rubbish, as long as their bank accounts are filled with idiots going to their concerts they’ll be happy. But for me, it’s a dead end. They are dead since the moment they decided that music is just a commodity.”

And Boiden Berzin is not the only one. Also Phil Marsh (“That they decide not to do one. Enough now.”) and Minor Float (“That it will be definitelly the last one”) posted comments that aren’t really celebrating Depeche Mode anno 2015.

Yalec Zviranov sent us a very long email from which we will quote a few sentences: “My collection is worth thousands of dollars, I have all of the test pressings, have seen them over 100 times and even went through a divorce because my ex thought I spent too much money on Depeche Mode. She was probably right (…) Knowing what I know now, and seeing how a band can completely ignore what they stood for, I have been auctioning off my collection bit by bit. Depeche Mode is no more, they stopped being the band I loved when Alan Wilder left them. You need to be deaf not to hear that he was what made Depeche Mode a good band. So, unless they get him back on board, you can consider this to be my farewell to a band which used to be great.”

And with that remark we return back to the first wish many of you had. For the fans, know that another new release will soon hit the shops, the vinyl re-release of Mirror’s “Mirror” featuring Dave Gahan!