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:Music Review: Depeche Mode – Where’s The Revolution [Remixes]

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Depeche Mode – Where’s The Revolution [Remixes]
Label:  Columbia
Release Date:  March 3, 2017
Websites: OfficialFacebookTwitterSoundCloudTumblr

Review by William Nesbitt
Professor of English and Chair of Humanities and General Education
Beacon College, http://www.beaconcollege.edu

Depeche Mode chose “Where’s The Revolution” as the leadoff single from the Spirit album.  The four remixes from the CD single/EP—it identifies itself as “remixes”—of “Where’s The Revolution” are highly listenable but not mind-blowing (there is a longer nine-track double LP single that I have not heard).  Even though I am no fan of Delta Machine, its three singles provide superb remixes that create an alternative, stunning version of the album.  We’ll see what comes, but so far it seems that the revolution will be neither televised nor remixed. 

“Where’s The Revolution” bemoans the absence of a revolution.  However, just as the revolution is absent, so is the recommended course of action.  An unidentified “they” “manipulate and threaten,” but the song never identifies the “they.” The Man, the powers that be, The System, some entity or organization along those lines, we must assume.  Institutions such as “religion” and “government” are mentioned but never named or pinpointed.  While the song attempts to cover all sorts of abuses of power and social injustices, it stretches itself too thin and instead of becoming universal stalls at generic.  The black-and-white picture on the back of the single shows the band standing in dark shoes, dark pants, dark jackets, and light shirts, with each member’s face covered by a bushy beard and thick mustache.  The allusion is obviously to Karl Marx—or else the Amish—but it would have been exciting to see the band incorporate Marxist references and features even more directly into the music and lyrics.  Even the cover image is a single, white flag without distinction other than its tattered edges.  The lack of a question mark in the song’s title signals that it is not a question:  there is no revolution, social, politically, or musically.

The album version is so-so, a would-be rebel but without a cause or an anthem.  The chorus is catchy, but the other parts of the song are unremarkable.  The electronic programming, however, is not bad at all.  The Ewan Pearson remix steps it up a bit and is definitely more club-y, but it doesn’t dramatically rework the song (the flanged guitar slides are a subtle touch that add to the remix).   The Algiers remix starts with pulses and swells, leading to a majestic chorus that finds the emotional weight that the track has been searching for.  “The train is coming” section gains power as well.  The Terence Fixmer remix begins with distorted sounds and hard beats and works for a while but then becomes monotonous.  The final remix by Autolux has hints of jungle and is quirky but not inventive.  Still, there is an overall sense of experimentation and play on the remixes that is noticeably absent from Spirit, but Depeche Mode’s singles have always been more daring and less commercial that the main albums. 

Spirit proves that Depeche Mode need to push their sound further; this group of remixes suggests that they still can.

Track Listing
01. Where’s The Revolution (Album Version)
02. Where’s The Revolution (Ewan Pearson Remix
03. Where’s The Revolution (Algiers Remix)
04. Where’s The Revolution (Terence Fixmer Remix)
05. Where’s The Revolution (Autolux Remix)

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