Color Theory

Color Theory Presents Depeche Mode

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Color Theory (aka Brian Hazard) surely had good intentions going into this Depeche Mode tribute album. Hazard covers 11 Mode songs that span A Broken Frame to Exciter, and oddly throws in an original composition, "Ponytail Girl," as a finale. Hazard claims that European websites mistook his song for a Depeche Mode track and then labeled it a rare bonus track. That's rather odd, because though the artist is clearly singing in Martin Gore's style and utilizing electro touches, from start to finish it's pretty clear that the song is merely someone aping the band. What's even stranger is that "Ponytail Girl" is probably the album's strongest track, if only because it doesn't feel like outright mimicry. The difficulty with this album is that Hazard affects Gore's voice like an impressionist, presenting every vibrato and every whisper in its proper place. But his voice isn't as rich as Gore's in this context, because he seems to get lost in his attempt to sound like Gore, and thus he forgoes passion and leaves his interpreting only to the music. This presents the other sticking point. While touches of tender piano add an interesting twist, Hazard's arrangements are mostly quite average. One can hear the ghost of 1990s rave music and numerous 1980s Mode clones in every bell and whistle. Though things rarely turn cheesy, one can't shake the feeling that this is a by-the-numbers tribute. While it might be good fun to catch Color Theory performing the entirety of this album in a live setting, it makes little sense on disc, since every Depeche Mode album is easily available. Color Theory Presents Depeche Mode is an admirable effort to be sure, but those outside Hazard's scene would do well to stick to the Depeche Mode originals.

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