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Disclaimer: In no way do I wish this to be a hate post, it’s just a re-evaluation of some of the core beliefs of many on the subject of Depeche Mode. In my opinion, Depeche Mode’s best album is 1988’s Music for the Masses. It presents itself as the best culmination of their repeated attempts to marry provocative lyrics with their stadium-sized ambition and hunger for popularity. It has been nearly matched twice, with 1986’s Black Celebration and 2005’s Playing the Angel. All three of these releases show Depeche Mode at their best, perfecting their formula to create albums that stand out among their 14-album discography. I’ve always had a problem with Depeche Mode despite these solid releases.
The cover of New Order’s 1989 release, Technique, depicts a cherub upon a gradient of pinks and purples. Peter Saville, New Order’s long-time sleeve designer suggested, retrospectively, that this was to reflect the hedonism of the time, an ode to the drug-fuelled excess of the 1980s. While this may be true, the striking cover can also be seen as a break with the past. New Order’s previous covers had been somewhat muted, the monotone cover of 1985’s Low-Life, the brazen aluminium of 1986’s Brotherhood, even the pops of colour in 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies cover seemed subdued somehow. The music reflects this. Similarly, the music held within Technique reflects its cover – a break with the past in favour for an embracing of all the musical touches New Order had previously only hinted at; a complete celebration of dance.
On July 3rd 2018, following an undisclosed illness, the incredibly prolific indie artist Richard Swift tragically passed away. Swift has a substantial solo catalogue and has worked with a myriad of beloved musicians – such as The Black Keys and The Shins – so he will be sorely missed by innumerable music fans. For the most part, I’m not very familiar with Swift’s work. However, I have one very significant connection to him: he produced Foxygen’s Take The Kids Off Broadway, one of my favourite albums of all time.
Much like their fellow indie icons MGMT, Arctic Monkeys had been away for a long time. Until this year, both bands hadn’t released an album since 2013 and their fans were getting decidedly restless. However, whilst MGMT used their latest album Little Dark Age to revive their synth-pop roots, Arctic Monkeys have returned with a completely new sound. Jettisoning any traces of the post-punk revival they were born out of, Arctic Monkeys’ sixth studio album Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino leans heavily into space age lounge music. Alongside an aesthetic inspired by ’70s sci-fi and frontman Alex Turner sporting a beard, this a bold new direction for the band. Does it pay off?
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