I agree with the general consensus that Martin Gore is perhaps synthpop’s best songwriter. At least at this “mature” stage of the band’s career Depeche Mode sound most like the band willing to leave the confines of their genre to serve his songs. I find his lyrics to be, on average, significantly better than the average synthpop lyrics. And he has strong melodies – though Depche Mode are sort of positioned as the least commercial of synthpop bands, they have always had catchy songs.
And here the arrangements are certainly more interesting than the average synthpop band’s. Though the production is horribly dated like every ’80s synthpop record, at least there’s stuff going on (though apparently the band complained that their own arrangements were too “cluttered” some of the time) which can add to the experience rather than just a few synths playing the different parts.
But, like with every synthpop band, I have a hard time listening to these guys and hearing a ton of artistic growth. There are differences between early Depeche Mode and later Depche Mode but, honestly, there’s not that much of a difference. (The songs are better, for one thing. But I’m talking about the overall sound.) That is my general problem with synthpop and I think that it was always be my problem with synthpop. When you commit yourself to playing music on ’80s synthesizers, you are limiting yourself somewhat.
All tracks written by Martin Gore.
- “Never Let Me Down Again” 4:47
- “The Things You Said” 4:02
- “Strangelove” 4:56
- “Sacred” 4:47
- “Little 15” 4:18
- “Behind the Wheel” 5:18
- “I Want You Now” 3:44
- “To Have and to Hold” 2:51
- “Nothing” 4:18
- “Pimpf / Interlude 1 (Mission Impossible)” 4:55
- Andy Fletcher – keyboards, bass
- Martin Gore – keyboards, guitars, backing and lead vocals
- Dave Gahan – lead vocals
- Depeche Mode – production
- Martyn Atkins – design, photography
- David Bascombe – engineering, production
- Mark Higenbottam – design, photography
- David Jones – design, photography
- Daniel Miller – additional production, help