BERLIN Depeche Mode are back, releasing their 14th studio album which the British synth-pop musicians describe as "bleak".
The Syrian conflict and rise of nationalism in Europe are cited by the band as inspiration for their songs on "Spirit".
"I think it is a quite bleak album, it doesn't view humanity very kindly but ... by calling it 'Spirit', maybe that helps to get us back on the right path," guitarist and keyboardist Martin Gore told Reuters in an interview.
"We knew it was a little bit dangerous to make an album that could be construed as being political but we felt that it was necessary in these times."
The group, which was formed in the 1980s, premiered their latest work at a Berlin concert on Friday night.
The first single "Where's the Revolution?" was inspired in 2015.
"The world was not as bad as it is today but there were a lot of things going on, one of the big things for me was Syria, maybe it's got worse but it was awful back then," Gore said.
"Nationalism is popular again... Remember the last time we saw nationalism before the Second World War, and there's potential for some really bad things to happen," keyboardist Andrew Fletcher said, adding the group were "not known for making political statements."
The band say they were "baffled" by comments by alt-right leader Richard Spencer, who was quoted calling Depeche Mode "the official band of the alt-right". Spencer later wrote on Twitter he was "joking" and that he was "a lifelong Depeche Mode fan".
"You can look at any of our albums, any of our songs and we're a very left-leaning band," Gore said.
"I personally think he said it as a bit of a joke because there is nothing in our lyrics or what we've said over the years to even put us anywhere near that," Fletcher added.
(This version of the story corrects quote in paragraph 8 to say there's potential not its potential)
(Reporting by Swantje Stein; Editing by Julia Glover and Hugh Lawson)