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The Independent Culture

Depeche Mode: Songs of Faith & Devotion (Mute 106). Oh Basildon, so much to answer for. Through all their incarnations - Essex- boy pop stars, Berlin decadents, and now ponderous rock lizards hanging around the desert with Anton Corbijn - Depeche Mode's saving grace has been their lack of conviction. It was the gap between Dave Gahan's voice and the pretensions of a song like 'Personal Jesus' that made it affecting. Here, he sings more convincingly than ever, but the lyrics display an awful self-pitying rockstarness - 'The pain I've been subjected to . . . the countless feasts laid at my feet'. The keynote is doom- laden self-absorption, but there are brighter moments: 'Get Right with Me' has a Toys-R-Us gospel twang, and 'Judas' is a fine creepy pop song, like Erasure on Valium. Ben Thompson

David Baerwald: Triage (A&M 395 392-2). Now this is creepy. Imagine the Eagles' 'King of Hollywood' crossed with Robert De Niro's monologue from Taxi Driver, and you might have a clue to the effect of these strange songs. To Baerwald, once half of the slick LA duo David & David, the archetypes of modern America are Jeffrey Dahmer and David Koresh: psychopaths and sociopaths who impose their distorted reality on the innocent. Cheerless stuff, maybe, but a truer reflection than most, and set to imaginative art-rock arrangements which make telling use of newscast sound-bites. The album ends with the redemptive touch of what sounds very much like a love song. Highly recommended. Richard Williams


Elvin Jones: Youngblood (Enja ENJ-7051). The ageless hero of the John Coltrane Quartet stokes a percussive fire behind three outstanding young improvisers: trumpeter Nicholas Payton and tenorists Joshua Redman and Javon Jackson. George Mraz, the Czech bassist, lends experience to a well-programmed set. RW