When Depeche Mode took to sleazy, scuzzed-up blues rock and gospel with 1993’s Songs Of Faith And Devotion album they put the drugs and devilment back into a genre that U2 had sucked insipid with Rattle & Hum.
Twenty-two years on, singer Dave Gahan’s second collaboration with production duo Soulsavers, following 2012’s The Light The Dead See, finds him wearily ploughing the same unfertile furrow that Bono’s boys had laid down to die in in 1988.
Plodding, overwrought gospel epics like Shine and Tempted are the order of the day, pale passionless shadows of the Mode’s mighty, desperate Condemnation. Then, Gahan roared as though digging his demons out of his belly with a rusty fork, here he sleepwalks through similar quasi-religious pangs.
Things improve on the starker latter half – the sinister haunted house piano and creeping strings of One Thing wrap Gahan in the dank cloaks that suit him, Lately is a delicate, dolorous delight and melancholy closers The Last Time and My Sun sound like Ennio Morricone burying his favourite pet. Here, the ghosts outshine the angels.