During their set at Germany’s Echo Awards this past weekend, Depeche Mode unveiled “Wrong,” the first single off their upcoming album Sounds of the Universe (out April 21). With screeching synths, computer-generated beats, and a chanting chorus with dark lyrics about personal mistakes, “Wrong” is classic Mode — watch and hear for yourself below.
But despite the familiar sound, keyboardist Andy Fletcher tells SPIN.com that recording the song was no easy task. “The middle eight in ‘Wrong’ we couldn’t get right, that took time and time and time,” he says. “We were focusing on it because we knew it was going to be a single… it was a lot of work.”
The song is one of 13 on the band’s 12th studio album, Sounds of the Universe, which — nearly three decades after the band’s 1981 birth — ushered in a new creative atmosphere for chief DM songwriter Martin Gore. “[Gore] gave up drinking during the  Playing the Angel tour,” Fletcher tells SPIN.com. “He was a bit worried, like a lot of writers are, about writing sober. But he’s really prolific on this album, more than usual.”
According to Fletcher, once Gore had written eleven songs, the band united in March to write. And soon they entered the studio to record with producer Ben Hillier (Blur, Doves, Elbow), the man behind the knobs on the Mode’s 2005 album Playing the Angel.
“Ben was a tyrant,” Fletcher says of the late ’08 sessions. “He had a real mission.” And so did Gore, whose obsession with eBay and vintage synthesizers led to new instruments turning up everyday in the mail, says Fletcher. “We’d open the box, try it, and get inspired — it’s a lot of stuff we owned in late ’70s and early ’80s,” Fletcher recalls.
Sounds of the Universe also marks a larger songwriting role for frontman Dave Gahan, who, prior to Playing the Angel, gave way to Gore, even for the words he’d sing. “Dave was never 100 percent comfortable as a frontman who didn’t write the lyrics,” Fletcher says of Gahan’s songwriting contributions, which have increased since the release of his last solo effort, 2007’s Hourglass. “The songwriting on his solo album is one of the reasons why Depeche are getting on so well now. He has so much more confidence in the studio.”
And for a band that’s adored for its deft forays into doom and gloom, things seem sunnier than ever. “As a band we’re getting on better than ever,” says Fletcher. “We’re still making music that’s relevant… to be here three decades on is amazing.”
Watch: Depeche Mode, “Wrong”