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Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Never Let Me Down Again"

Depeche Mode - "Never Let Me Down Again" (1987)

Mostly sung by lead singer Dave Gahan, lead songwriter Martin Gore takes an unusually strong singing role in this song.

Apparently, many fans feel the lyrics refer to drug use. I always assumed it was about an overbearing best friend and that the lead voice and the anonymous 'best friend' were also homosexual on the down low. It's a little odd structurally, it starts with a verse, then the chorus, then another verse that starts so similarly you think maybe there is only one verse. but the back end of the verse is different. So then chorus again, then a bridge and a repetitive vocal fade out that actually grows much louder before the full fade out. So two verses, but really only one and a half.

The music has a lot more to dig into. After a blink and you'll miss it intro based on heavily produced guitars, we quickly get into the main song. The verses are synth heavy oppressive sounding things, threatening, and yet at the same time remind of of "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" but slowed down. I appreciate the use of the bass drum, so it doesn't sound like a dance track, and I appreciate what sounds like an actual piano leading into the vocals. The chorus is really different. There's a really soft and pleasant backing vocal, and the keyboards sound almost like large chimes and other idiophones. There's also almost a tack piano/children's toy piano sound going on.

The ending is a whole different animal, choirs singing, multiple lead vocals blending over each other, orchestra hits, that keep building in volume the horn sounds getting brighter and louder and the tom drums reaching out under us, and then just as it reaches a near fevered pitch, it is over. Live they do more with drum sounds that I really like, keeping up a complex rhythm pattern that sounds almost tribal.

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