Album Review: MG - 'MG'

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The songs of Depeche Mode were certainly a soundtrack to the disenfranchised throughout the 80s, but they were the rare group of outcasts that were blessed with lots of crossover hits.

From "People Are People" to "Personal Jesus" they hit a streak of successful singles and albums that were dark enough for the goths yet catchy enough for the mall rats.

There was also a clear progression, especially vivid when listening to Depeche Mode's two singles collections (The Singles 81-85 and The Singles 86-98). The guys began as an irresistible pop/dance act and as the years ticked by the grew increasingly darker and more sophisticated.

Early on Martin Gore, David Gahan, Andy Fletcher and Vince Clark formed as a more conventional rock band until Gore heard the new single by Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark ("Electricity") and instantly became infatuated with electronic music.

The dark electric rock they were making by the end of the 80s was on par with such stadium filling rock acts like The Cure, U2 and Echo & The Bunnymen.

When Depeche Mode did rock, they did so in a reserved, emotionally-damaged way which certainly made the guys unlikely arena fodder.

Fast-forward twenty years and the guys are still touring and recording on the regular. However, the whole EDM craze of the post-2000's had little to do with the pioneering sounds of Depeche Mode, simply because their style was never about mindless partying or even dancing.

Theirs was electronic music better enjoyed alone with a good pair of headphones.

Since the Mode is currently on hiatus, Martin Gore (the bands leader, guitarist, keyboardist, producer and lyric-writer) has concocted a brand new solo album called simply MG (out April 28th on Mute). It's stark, electro soundscapes evoke a cold tundra at dusk.

His first completely instrumental album, MG is a slow-burn.

"Crowly" pulses with gurgling synths and evokes a night ride through a future cosmopolitan. The industrial "Brink" is the closest this comes to dance music, while most of the tracks slither along on a Brian-Eno-with-insomnia vibe.

Gore decided to release MG under the pseudonym of MG as a way to distant the album from his work with Depeche Mode. These ambient fragments don't hold much of the personality that made Depeche Mode albums like Violator and Black Celebration instant classics. Tracks like "Europa Hymn" attempt to reach a higher level but never seem to achieve all-out bliss.

The electronic music genre is a crowded party in 2015 and the bleak pieces of MG are not likely to gain any new converts. I give "MG" by MG 3 Empty Lighthouses out of 5.

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