Music for the Masses- Depeche Mode

Release Year: 1987

Rating: 9/10

This is the album that gave Depeche Mode mainstream success in the US. It’s full of their hits singles from 1987 and has some of the best tracks of their career. While most people will call Violator the best Depeche Mode album, this one is great too. Every song is a hit and there’s never a dull moment in the album. It also has the gloomy atmosphere the band is known for.

There is a dark, moody tone running through the album, which becomes clear by the third track. All of the songs have elements in them which adds to the dark tone, whether it be the music, the lyrics, or sound effects. I would even argue that this album is gloomier than most of their others. At times the music can even sound creepy. The track “Little 15” has weird music that sounds like a circus theme played backwards and it really gives the song an unsettling tone. The darker tones are also found in the lyrics. The bonus song “Pleasure, Little Treasure”talks about the consequences of finding your pleasure, such as unwanted pregnancies. It’s as if they’re addressing the consequences of so called sins. Some of the songs are even a bit disturbing.

The track “I Want You Now” begins with odd breathing and sniffing noises that play throughout the song. This alone already puts you on edge. What’s interesting is that when the singing begins it actually sounds like a sweet song about a person who can’t live without their lover. But as the song goes on and the music and vocals become more intense the song takes a darker turn. With the music swelling, the odd breathing still going on and the singer becoming more desperate it sounds more like a stalker tracking his victim, rather than a sweet song to a lover. You even start to wonder if the two know each other. This is the type of clever musicianship found on the album.

The music is another thing that makes this album great. Depeche Mode is known for using synth in the best way possible and it’s no different on this record. A lot of the synth riffs are so infectious that they’ll get you moving. At times the music can be light and pretty and other times it’s powerful, dooming and intense. Either way it’ll get you on your feet. The band also ingeniously mixes synth with other instruments. The track “Nothing” has a danceable rhythm thanks to the synth, but then a guitar lick comes in and really gives the song flavor. Other times a piano piece will be played along with the beeps and boops and it makes a great impression.

As mentioned before the songs here are great. This album opens with the awesome “Never Let Me Down Again.” It’s a catchy, moody song that has great booming music as Gahan softly sings about taking a ride with his best friend. Another great song is “Sacred.” It begins with ominous noises until Gahan begins singing. The additional vocals by Gore are amazingly haunting and will send shivers down your spine. This is another song that has great upbeat music, but still has a creepy edge to it.

Here you’ll also find Depeche Mode hits “Strangelove” and “Behind the Wheel,” but one song that deserves recognition is the instrumental track “Pimpf.” Usually, I’m not a fan of instrumentals. I get bored after about a minute, but this song is so intense it will definitely keep your attention if it doesn’t scare you first. The music starts out sounding like a creepy, classical soundtrack to a scary movie, but it keeps growing and growing adding more and more elements like chanting until it grows into this terrifying track. It sounds as if it’s ushering in the new Satan’s spawn. Then it abruptly stops. Nothing but silence for about a minute. The song slowly starts up again with softer weird noises and music. It’s truly a massive track that needs your attention.

Overall, I give the album 9/10. It’s a great album filled with awesome songs that everyone may be familiar with and some tracks that are not so familiar. The music ranges music you can play in a club to music you would hear if you were trapped in a Gothic cathedral. It’s one of the best Depeche Mode albums that deserves more notice and recognition. Though Violator is my favorite record by the band, I would still recommend this in a heartbeat.

Do you think this is a better album than Violator? What is your favorite track? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.



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