This is my favourite Depeche Mode album. Full stop.
Why? This record encompasses all the strengths of Violator and Songs Of Faith And Devotion. The days of Black Celebration and Music For The Masses are gone, no need to compare it to those classics. But Violator and Devotion are still close, both added a lot to the Depeche Mode sound, now Ultra combines everything you need from their in musical terms. Why also? Lyrically this is their most mature album. Devotion was also serious but too desperate. This album sounds peaceful and spiritual.
Anything else? This album is their best in production. Sounds majestic as a progressive record, also very contemporary but never overproduced. Effects and loops caress you softly and warm.
The songs? ‘Barrel Of A Gun’ kicks ass. Everything after is calm and soft. ‘The Love Thieves’ is their most beautiful song probably. Just like ‘Home’, revealing song sung by Martin Gore with perfect production. ‘It’s No Good’ is a good pop song, too similar to ‘Enjoy The Silence’ is synths, but an ok song. ‘Useless’ is one of the harder ones: strong guitars and drums dominate, real “Devotional” feeling, but also something warm inside. The entire second half is dominated by perfectly produced spiritual songs: ‘Sister Of Night’, ‘Freestate’ and the haunting ‘The Bottom Line’. You don’t need anything better from them.