Depeche Mode Vinyl, CD & tapes by Depeche Mode at Norman Records
Appearing as mere children on Top of the Pops in 1981 with their second single 'New Life', Depeche Mode have come a long long way for a band dismissed at as teenybop sensations. Their early singles and debut album Speak and Spell were informed by the songwriting prowess of Vince Clark who promptly left the band after their early success in order to form Yazoo. Many bands would have crumbled at such a blow but Depeche Mode just carried on where they left off with Martin Gore taking over songwriting duties. As the 80s progressed, their songwriting became increasingly dark in tone and sophisticated in arrangement. Although second album A Broken Frame showed some development with stellar singles 'See You' and 'The Meaning of Love' carrying on their chart success, it was their third album Construction Time Again which showcased a significant move forward. Inspired by the industrial rock of the likes of Einstürzende Neubauten the band began to add harsher more experimental sounds into their catchy pop music. This was never more in evidence than on terrific single 'Everything Counts' where politically leaning lyrics contrasted with strange sampled sounds and a sky scraping melody that they probably never bettered. The following year’s Some Great Reward contained more odd but chart-friendly compositions most notably closer 'Blasphemous Rumours' - an eerie criticism of religion that was controversial but paved the way for the more doomy music the band would go onto make.
Depeche Mode’s second big bout of success came with 1990’s Violator. By now their sound had progressed to a more stadium-friendly widescreen sound encompassing the sort of guitars that were nowhere to be seen on their early synth pop ditties. Although critical reception wasn’t universally positive at first, the album spawned two enormous singles in 'Personal Jesus' and 'Enjoy the Silence' and the band finally crossed over to the American market enjoying huge success and sell out tours. Its follow up Songs of Faith and Devotion was even more indebted to American rock and grunge but coincided with deeply personal problems within the band soon after singer Dave Gahan had a near fatal drug overdose and songwriter Martin Gore suffered seizures brought on by alcoholism. At this point Alan Wilder left the band who carried on as a trio for the remainder of their career. Their follow up Ultra was marred somewhat by Gahan’s drug dependency but freshly sober he would contribute to its follow up Exciter which was produced by Mark Bell of LFO giving the album a more up to date IDM type feel inspired by Warp Records and 90s electronica.
Since then, Depeche Mode have released three further albums Sounds of the Universe (2009), Delta Machine (2013) and Spirit (2017). Their records don’t quite have the impact they once did but they continue to push forward artistically and are still an enormous live draw on the occasion they decide to perform. Both Dave Gahan and Martin Gore have released solo work and as part of other collaborations but Depeche Mode continues to be a huge ticket selling machine and perhaps still one of the biggest ‘heritage’ acts the UK has produced alongside the Cure.
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