2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Defines the word "grower",
This review is from: Ultra (Audio CD)
By 1997 I had grown bored of Depeche Mode. 1993's "Songs of Faith and Devotion" had quickly become a disappointment, mainly due to the uncomfortable and nagging opinion that they just did not suit the rock posturing that that album and subsequent tour appeared to spawn. "Ultra" was the first record of theirs since "Black Celebration" that I hadn't bought on release, I heard it at a friend's house several times, but it didn't make a huge impression on me, other than the fact that had embraced their electronic strengths once more. It took me about a year before I finally bought it. Initially that was for completist purposes only. However, repeated listenings changed my outlook entirely. It defines the word "grower" and is now probably my joint favourite Depeche Mode album, alongside "Violator". Instrumental interludes aside, there isn't a bad song on it, and possibly the only criticism I can level at it is that it is slightly one-paced. But it's pace fits the songs and Tim Simenon's vital production is outstanding. Whereas Alan Wilder/Flood and even Daniel Miller tended to throw the kitchen sink at it, Simenon let's the music breathe. Melodically and musically it is a wonderful merging of Martin Gore's songwriting and David Gahan's singing. So many moments stand out, the wonderfully understated guitar solo on "The Love Thieves", the crescendo of strings towards the climax of "Home",the beautiful, swirling synthesiser fade out on "Sister of Night" and the unusual vocal interplay and harmonies between Gahan and Gore on the wonderful closing track "Insight". Depeche Mode have only sporadically made decent music since 1997, but this album, considering the internal turmoil that preceded it's release, is an outstanding statement of defiance.