MICROCHIP music for moody moderns: "Black Celebration" is another batch of dire and doomy electrodirges from Depeche Mode, pop pap apparently aimed at a burgeoning market of budding adolescent existentialists.
Songs like "Black Celebration" and "Fly on the Windshield" (sample lyrics: "Death is everywhere / There are flies on the windscreen for a start / Reminding us we could be torn apart / Tonight . . . ) would seem likely to reinforce suicidal tendencies, but taken as a whole, this album is so unremittingly morose it becomes almost comical.
Over the space of five albums, Depeche Mode has refined its distinctive sound, marked by a hammering dance beat and trademark musique concre'te blend of "industrial" metallic noises and odd sampled sounds -- breathing, slamming doors, flushing toilets.
Many of the production gimmicks on "Black Celebration" are arresting, but the group has simply put more polish on the basic formula. Singer/songwriter Martin Gore's listless, limited vocals sound as if he's delivering them through a vacuum cleaner, snapping on different attachments for each number.
The songwriting is similarly formulaic, with each song based on a compilation of elementary electronic riffs, though Depeche Mode is getting more ambitious -- the synthetic choral chant from "It Doesn't Matter" is baldly borrowed from the Philip Glass canon.
DEPECHE MODE -- "Black Celebration" (Sire 25429); appearing Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion.