I can imagine few situations more challenging than trying to craft an ostensibly commercial creative project almost immediately after the death of one of your longtime collaborators. How do you balance the push and pull of “the record has to sell or the label will be cranky with us” versus “this needs to be meaningful on some level”? I’m not sure I could do it, and I wholly understand why a band might just “nope” out of existence when one of its members passes on.

With all of that said, yesterday’s release of Memento Mori, Depeche Mode’s follow-up to 2017’s Spirit album and their first project since the death of Andy Fletcher last year, didn’t connect with me. Is it well crafted? Definitely, absolutely. Are the lyrics laden with meaning? I suppose so, but my brain doesn’t process lyrics very well so I’m only guessing here. And the problem is, I suspect that if lyrics were what I connected to in a song then I’d be faring much better with this record. They’re not, and I’m not.

Will I listen to most of it again? Probably not. It’s not bad, for the most part, barring a couple of tracks that actively repelled me. The album’s just not working for me. It might for you, though! And that’s cool.