NBHAP Rating: 4,4/5
Label: Columbia Records
02. You Owe Me
04. All of This and Nothing
05. One Thing
06. Don’t Cry
08. The Last Time
09. My Sun
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
DAVE GAHAN has come a long way from the stylish New Wave kid from Basildon to ‘larger-than-life’ and ‘almost-dead’ global rockstar of the 1990s straight to the refined family man he now is. The DEPECHE MODE leading man fought his demons for years but with the help of Rich Machin and his British alternative pop project SOULSAVERS he found something in his fifties he thought he never find: a new musical home. Don’t get us wrong, there’s no DEPECHE MODE without its lead singer and the past years and albums like 2013’s Delta Machine proved that the band isn’t done yet but this project feels different. 2012’s first musical adventure between those two musicians – The Light That Dead See – already felt like a natural clash. Angels & Ghosts marks the logical continuation of that spiritual alliance, making you really question why he still joins his main band. Well, at least a bit.
Angels & Ghosts continues the dusty and cinematic blues rock the first joint venture with SOULSAVERS already gave us, but this time it sounds even more focussed, powerful and natural. ‘Anyone can see, it’s destiny’ states DAVE GAHAN in the powerful opening track Shine whose noisy guitar riff and uplifting gospel moments take us right back to where The Light The Dead See left us. The singer’s love for blues and gospel – something he shares with his other musical partner MARTIN L. GORE – has gotten stronger and stronger in the past years. Especially Delta Machine proved that it was even impossible to ignore in the DEPECHE MODE microcosm anymore. Angels & Ghosts proves that it is no exception to the rule but it might already became the new rule. DAVE GAHAN stated more than once that the work with SOULSAVERS feels way more natural than the one with his main band. No tight schedules, no pressure from record companies, Millions of fans and the own legacy. The legendary performer found a way to free himself from the stadium rock madness of one of pop music’s biggest acts of all time. This is home, this is a musical sanctuary he desperately needed, it seems.
The grooving spaghetti western tunes like You Owe Me and Tempted with their shuffling beats dominate the new SOULSAVERS collaboration. They give the record its dirty but also cinematic sound which Machin and his band perfected even more compared to the predecessor. On top of it, the singer does what he does best: playing the sensual crooner who sings about his favourite subjects: love, death, god, demons and – of course – redemption. No, he isn’t done washing the sins of the past off. But he’s enjoying it more than before. The synthpop legend sounds strong, confident while allowing his distinctive voice just the right amount of cracks and edginess he needs for this sort of sound. This time he’s best when he slows down the tempo. The gentle One Thing might be the heart of the record and unfolds itself as a truly wonderful piano ballad on which GAHAN sings about the necessity of love in those fast and troubled times while he also recommends his lover to watch ‘those tasteless shows on our TV’ in the probably most romantic way. A rare lyrical true-to-life moment on the album while the rest of it is looking straight to heaven with questioning eyes.
Other highlights on Angels & Ghosts include the pumping gospel pop lead single All Of This And Nothing as well as the cinematic Lately which sees GAHAN and the always present gospel choir flying away on a wave of beautifully arranged strings. The fact that the new collaborative LP with SOULSAVERS is only nine tracks long also works in favour of it since the strict recipe wouldn’t work that entertaining once you extend it. The album does enough in the course of its short duration. ‘Behind the darkest clouds then sun always shines again’ is the naive message GAHAN leaves to us in the final song My Sun. Well, by now one should have noticed that the former Englishmen might not be the most complex lyricist. For GAHAN it’s more about a feeling in which his voice marks one element in a perfectly balanced sea of other instruments. Angels & Ghosts captures a man who finally found his place and might also convince those who aren’t the biggest DEPECHE MODE devotees. It really feels as if this joint venture just got started.
On Angels & Ghosts DAVE GAHAN & SOULSAVERS manage to perfect their musical symbioses as they deliver cinematic and perfectly produced gospel pop redemption.