DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry Two Hundred Forty-Nine.
Monday, 2023.04.24, 9:42 AM central time.

So, there was a new Depeche Mode album... my somewhat brutal review of Memento Mori.
Current Mood:  Really not too shabby, but a tad overwhelmed with items on my proverbial plate.
Current Scent:  Higher Energy by Christian Dior.

So, welcome to our world... April 2023.

For context:

  • I've been DJing for 33 years.
  • I've been in the DJ industry for 35 years.
  • A few days ago was the 33rd anniversary of my senior prom.
  • My older son, X, is now old enough to DRIVE.
  • The Mississippi River is reportedly flooding with water levels greater than they have been in over two decades.
  • Russia invaded the Ukraine over a year ago, and they're still fighting, and it's horrible.
  • "Uncle Joe" Biden looks like he's going to be running for president in 2024, and unfortunately, my party can't get their collective head out of their collective ass long enough to find anybody better to trot out (seriously?)...
  • Here in the US, a bunch of crybabies who like to call other people "snowflakes" are angrily boycotting Bud Light (American horse piss in a can) because they dared to barely associate themselves with a trans woman.  OH NOES!


Here's hoping you're all doing well.

I'm currently taking a scheduled vacation day off from work, mainly to virtually attend a motivational seminar event spearheaded by one Mr. Matthew McConaughey, author of "Greenlights."  Will it be any good?  We'll see.

(Addendum, 2023-04-26:  It turned out to be a badly-produced sales pitch - complete with VERY badly-done canned "studio" laughter and applause - for a $397 series of courses, in which I won't be taking part.)

I've been doing okay, save for a bit of trouble I've had around the region of my gall bladder.  I've had three tests done, and here have been the results:

  • X-ray (not cheap):
    "You've got sludge in your gall bladder!"
  • Ultrasound (definitely not cheap):
    "You've got sludge in your gall bladder!"
  • Nuclear hepatobiliary with ejection fraction (pretty much the polar fackin' opposite of cheap):
    "Whaaaaat?  Ain't no obstruction here.  I don't know what those other guys were talking about."

Do I really have something wrong with my gall bladder?  Geez, who knows?  But... that's probably not what you're wanting to read about.


As a lot of you know, I kind of like Depeche Mode.  A LOT.

But, I'm also not the kind of fan who thinks they can do no wrong.  2001's Exciter was okay, but far less than exciting.  2005's Playing the Angel was incredible, but 2009's Sounds of the Universe was, overall, their crappiest album in the last three decades.  2013's Delta Machine was spectacular.  2017's Spirit was... mainly boring and dreary.

So, for those of you who can't follow patterns well:  This meant that this year's Memento Mori would probably be, at the very least, pretty damn good.

Memento Mori is the first Depeche Mode album to follow the death of acclaimed clapper and waver, Andrew "Deadweight" Fletcher, whose fraudulent presence on the Depeche Mode stage added practically nothing of a musical nature to their live shows for decades - but daaaaamn, that guy could (almost) clap on beat!

No, I'm not going to pretend that Fletch was any better than he was just because he's dead, and I continue to believe that he is a good part of the reason that Alan Wilder left the band in 1995.  Amazingly, I can be a Depeche Mode fan and not posthumously kiss Fletch's pulmonarily-defunct arse.  More Depeche Mode fans should try that approach.  It's refreshing.

So, did Memento Mori keep up with the pattern of "good album, bad album, repeat?"

Oh, very much so.  It appears that Martin and Dave could, astoundingly, crank out a fairly magnificent piece of work without good ol' Fletch standing by doing practically fuck-all from a musical point of view.

Here's my track-by-track review:


1.  "My Cosmos Is Mine"
(Martin L. Gore)

Is it their most delightfully industrial-sounding track in a loooong time?  Yes, it is.
Is it also slow as hell?  Yes, it is.
But hey, check out that awesome chorus!
(Heh... oh wait... I guess Martin thought it would be cool to not give this one a chorus at all.)
A chorus would have helped.  Still, it's a good, gradual opener.


2.  "Wagging Tongue"
(Martin L. Gore and Dave Gahan)
Ladies and gentlemen, here we have the best damn song on the new album, with all of the subject matter related back to watching angels die - beautifully dark lyrically, with really, really nice synth work.  I've heard that this will be the second single, but hopefully we will get a FIRST physical single before a second single gets released.


3.  "Ghosts Again"
(Martin L. Gore and... wait... Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs?!)

It's the first single!  And, two and a half months after its official release, we fans still have NO official remixes, no 12" single, and not even a CD single.  I've heard that a physical release was planned, but I'm guessing that Fletch must have been in charge of arranging official remixes and physical singles.  Thanks, Fletch.

[And no, the 7" singles inclded as promos with European magazines don't count.]

I really, REALLY want to LOVE "Ghosts Again."  It's got a nice video, and lyrically it's quite good, and musically, it's... not bad.  I like it, but try as I might, I can't bring myself to outright adore it, and I think there are far better songs on the album to release as, well, singles.


4.  "Don't Say You Love Me"
(Martin L. Gore and, um, Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs)

This one's fun because it sounds like it should be in an old black-and-white spy flick.  It's slow and it's a bit somber and it's a nice ballad detailing a relationship that is pretty much anything except love.  Pretty good.


5.  "My Favorite Stranger"
(Martin L. Gore and - wait for it! - Richard Butler)

Oooooh, I like this one lyrically - especially at the end when (spoiler alert) the "favorite stranger" - who's been Dave Gahan himself the whole time!! - "leaves crime in my wake and blood on my hands."  Dark!  Violent!  Awesome!

However, I do want to point out to Martin Gore and the Martin Gore apologists out there that, shocking though it may seem, a wailing guitar riff in between verses DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A PROPER FUCKING CHORUS.  It would have been awfully nice to have had a chorus on this one.  Holy shit, Martin, what happened to you?

Still... it's a better-than-good track, I really do enjoy it, and I'm glad that it exists on the album.


6.  "Soul With Me"
(Martin L. Gore)

Ladies and gentlemen, here we have THE most 70s-sounding-song that Depeche Mode may have ever released.  It's also the best "Martin song" (obligatory ballad with Martin performing lead vocals) that DM have released in a long, long time.  It's about dying!  And it's cheerful!  And so freeing!  And happy!!  And it makes dying sound AWESOME!!  The chorus of "Ooooh, and I'm taking my soul with me!" gets stuck in my head from time to time.  I really like this one.


7.  "Caroline's Monkey"
(Martin L. Gore and that Butler guy)

Another spoiler:  Caroline's Monkey isn't really a monkey.  It's a drug.  Probably heroin.

I wasn't sure what to expect from a song called "Caroline's Monkey."  This is not a bad song at all and, overall, I really enjoy it!  However...

DEAR MARTIN AND MR. FUR:  If you're going to include the lyric "AGAIN" pronounced in the British manner that rhymes with "gain," "pain," "plane," and "disdain," perhaps you should not try to force it to rhyme with the lyric "needles and pins."  HOLY CRAP, that bothers me every time I hear it.

Then again, Martin Gore and Richard Butler-Fur have both made a ton more money in their lifetimes than I will ever see, so what do I know?


8.  "Before We Drown"
(Dave Gahan and Peter Gordeno and Christian Eigner)

Okay, it's worth noting that Gordeno and Eigner, who co-wrote this one, are the touring musicians who have been with Depeche Mode for about 25 years and running.  They play synths and drums, respectively, and a lot of the fans hate them because they're not Alan Wilder, and Wilder is never, ever coming back to Depeche Mode, which makes the fans sad.

And, thus, it's very likely that Gordeno and Eigner will likely never, ever be considered "real" members of Depeche Mode, no matter how much, in this longtime fan's humble opinion, they deserve to be.

Here, we have a solid track about trying to save a relationship.  It's good.  Not great.  I've seen some fans on YouTube practically having a stroke over how they think is the best, most Depeche Modey Depeche Mode song IN DECADES.

(It's not.  You're confusing it with "Alone" from two albums back.)


9.  "People Are Good"
(Martin L. Gore)

You know whom I like?  Kraftwerk.
You know whom Martin Gore likes?  Kraftwerk.
You know what Martin Gore likes almost as much as he likes Kraftwerk?  Clever cynicism.

Welcome to the second-best song on the entire fucking album - neck-and-neck with "Wagging Tongue," just super-duper-close.

"People Are Good" should be a single, but it won't be, because "Alone" wasn't a single, "So Much Love" wasn't a single, "Corrupt" wasn't a single, "The Sinner in Me" wasn't a single, "You Move" wasn't a single, "Mercy in You" wasn't a single, "Sister of Night" wasn't a single, "The Dead of Night" wasn't a single, and Depeche Mode are often shit when it comes to choosing singles.

I adore the message of this one:  We can try our best to believe the "people are good," whispering it to ourselves to keep reminding ourselves, and as much as we really want to believe "that everyone cares" and "they're all full of love," we're really just fooling ourselves, because so many people really are evil garbage inside.

Plus, the synths on this one sound more like Kraftwerk than possibly anything Depeche Mode have ever released, ever ever.  That's not a bad thing, because I love Kraftwerk, too.


10.  "Always You"
(Martin L. Gore)

This one sounds like a track that Dave Gahan would have written, because it doesn't sound sophisticated enough to be a song that Martin wrote, but it's still a great track.

The good bits:  It's a gorgeous love song, it's got a pulsating rhythm to it, it's easily stuck in one's head, and it's single-worthy but it won't be a single for the same reason that "People Are Good" won't be a single.

The bad bit:  The second verse starts with "My love, there are no more words."  The song then proceeds to serve up approximately eighty-two more words.  Yes, this genuinely irritates me.  It's like when people say "'Nuff said" but then proceed to follow that shit up with paragraph after paragraph trying to prove a point... or, when Dave Gahan sang (in 2003's "Bottle Living") "He's like a king without a crown/he wears it like a crown."  Don't sing something and then immediately break its logic.  It sounds amateurish.

Still... crap, it's a passionate and damn catchy song.


11.  "Never Let Me Go"
(Martin L. Gore)

Oh, this one is REALLY good.  I would have slapped this one a bit earlier into the album's tracklist because it's so uptempo, pounding, catchy, and deceptively dark.

Lyrically, the song reminds me of the Police classic "Every Breath You Take" or, to a lesser extent, James Blunt's misunderstood "You're Beautiful."  It's a song that sounds like it could be a love song, but it's really about loving/stalking someone who DOESN'T love back.

Yes, the chorus is just the title of the song repeated.  At least it's a better chorus than "My Cosmos Is Mine" and "My Favorite Stranger" got.  GREAT track.


12.  "Speak to Me"
(Dave Gahan and Marta Sologni and Christian Eigner and James Ford)

Um... is this the first time that a Gahan-penned song has closed an album?  I think it is!

But, it's worth noting that he had help from Christian "drummer but not an official band member" Eigner, plus enough assistance from the producer and engineer of the album that they got writing credits as well.

This song is quite slow, and it can be a little boring, but OH GOD, it hits me right in the emotion center of my diseased brainpan.  It reminds me too much of the ups-and-downs that I've had in my relationship with my girlfriend, Leah.  I love her like mad, but for reasons I won't go into (no cheating or anything like that, thank God), we've managed to hurt each other along the way, and the relationship has been a bit damaged here and there.  Yes, when I heard the song in concert, I had tears streaming down my face.  I still have to fight them back sometimes when I just hear the album version.

It's a beautiful, poignant end to a really, really good album.


You know... I feel kind of bad, but not really, for all of the whiny-asses who want Depeche Mode to churn out another Violator.  This wasn't Violator, and you know what?  You'll NEVER GET another Violator.

Wilder hasn't been with the band for over twenty-seven years!  GET OVER IT!  Would it be great if he came back to the band?  Absolutely... but if he's not going to come back to the band after Captain Clap-and-Wave has been removed from the equation, you know when he's going to come back to the band?  NEVERRRRR.

If you want to listen to Violator, I've got great news!  You can still find it on CD, on vinyl, on cassette, and even on the new-fangled MP3s the kids are talking about these days.  Go listen to it.  Go on.  Shoo.

But... if you want a REALLY good modern Depeche Mode album by two guys who are now (oh, this is gonna hurt) IN THEIR FACKIN' SIXTIES (ouch - sufferrrrrrrrr), then try to listen to Memento Mori without mourning too much for "Enjoy the Silence," mmmkay?  Mmmkay.

There you have it.  If you're good, maybe next time I'll write about that time that I got on a plane for the first time in over twenty years and flew to Las Vegas to see a couple of guys perform in concert.

More soon!


(Addendum, 2023-04-24, 11:09 AM:  Don't get me wrong... I wish we could get another Violator, too.)  :(

[The site is still forthcoming.  The views and opinions expressed in my posts are mine and mine alone.  No posts on this site, nor any of my posts on social media, should be considered representative of any company for which I work, nor any company for which I've ever worked, nor any company which I own or have owned.  Also, since you're already here reading this:  Don't rent cars from Dollar, Thrifty, or Hertz.  Thanks.]