Depeche Mode face down the abyss in ‘Memento Mori’

“Memento Mori” by Depeche Mode (Columbia Records)

And then there were only two. Depeche Mode have always been a genre unto itself: a vibe, a sort of feedback loop that is timeless yet nostalgic, dark, edgy, a little too dark sometimes but always so cool. Their 15th studio album titled “Memento Mori” (Latin for “remember you will die”) feels both like a tribute to founding member and keyboardist Andy Fletcher who died in May 2022 and left them a duo (Dave Gahan and Martin Gore) and a mission statement of their music.

The 12 tracks are fully Depeche, fully intoxicating in sound, artistically evocative and sometimes puzzling (like the compelling but strange “Caroline’s Monkey”). The music is staring lovingly into the abyss and asking it to love it back; death is always hovering on the periphery of the sound, a grunge, industrial, rainy sound also filled with a strange kindness.

“Soul with Me” is an incredible ballad where Gahan’s voice changes to an unrecognizable pitch, while “Before We Drown” is an electro sexy tune, while “My Cosmos Is Mine” has a dramatic tempo to it that works. “Ghost Again” hooks you with its deep fry bass and “People are Good” engages the aural with an unusual vibrato.

Depeche Mode might be facing their own mortality but their power as musicians stretches into infinity. CRISTINA JALERU, MDT/AP

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