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Pop/Rock - Released March 22, 2013 | Columbia

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Pop/Rock - Released March 22, 2013 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 26, 2020 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 17, 2017 | Columbia

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In a time of sociopolitical upheaval, Depeche Mode emerged with Spirit. Dark, brooding, and painfully relevant upon its release, the collection is one of their most intense and aggressive statements, isolating the frustration, anger, tension, and dread coursing across the globe in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Brexit. With little subtlety, Depeche Mode take aim and leave few survivors. Producer James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco, Arctic Monkeys, Florence + the Machine) revives the trio after their two prior lackluster efforts and turns Spirit into a highlight of their late era, the strongest effort since 2005's Playing the Angel. From a fiery pulpit, Dave Gahan hurls line after line chastising the masses, wondering how the world got into such a bind. He points the finger at "misinformation," "misguided leaders," "apathetic hesitation," and "uneducated readers" on "The Worst Crime," taking his own share of responsibility by admitting "we are all charged with treason." On "Going Backwards," he fears a regression "to a caveman mentality." When Martin Gore joins him, they come to a dire conclusion: "We feel nothing inside/Because there's nothing inside." If the perpetually gloomy pair think affairs are this bad, perhaps there really is no hope (a decision Gore flirts with on "Fail" when he laments, "Our conscience is bankrupt/Oh, we're fucked"). Despite such desperation, the band doesn't allow for much time to be paralyzed by fear and complacency. Like parents telling their children they're "so disappointed" in them in the hopes of sparking a little reverse-psychology motivation, Spirit is Depeche Mode's challenge for us to prove them wrong. The swaggering "Where's the Revolution" is a call to arms that could double as effective propaganda for resistance recruitment, while the hammering "So Much Love" takes a defiant stand in the face of hate, wielding love as a weapon to fight the good fight. Meanwhile, on the pure and vulnerable "Eternal," Gore -- restraining his late-era vibrato -- promises to love and protect a loved one in uncertain times. However, when love is not enough, there's the visceral "Scum," a savage throbber that swells with ominous synths as Gahan asks, "Hey scum, what are you gonna do when karma comes?" before goading said miscreant to "pull the trigger." On Spirit, Gahan once again flexes his songwriting muscles, which have only gotten stronger after his work with Soulsavers. The sexy "You Move," written with Gore, is a club-ready standout that pulses from the darkest corners found on Ultra and Gahan's Hourglass, while the carnal "Poison Heart" is another Soulsavers-esque affair, as sleazy and spiritual as he gets. Robust and fearless, Spirit may end up being one of the earliest and best salvos of its political era. Despite dour lyrics to the contrary, Depeche Mode haven't given up on humanity. Spirit exhumes the remains of our better nature and demands its resurrection. © Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 14, 2014 | Columbia

The saying "never trust a synth pop band over 30" goes out the window as the arena-filling Depeche Mode present the 2014 film Live in Berlin, a career-spanning set that breathes new life into old numbers, while tackling new tunes with the same power and commitment. Thank lead singer and hyped showman David Gahan for all the power, as on this soundtrack, he growls, cries out, and full-bodied croons these soul-bearing lyrics, including the Delta Machine newbie "Should Be Higher," which soars about three or four stories higher that its studio version. Gahan takes the verses as if he's Leonard Cohen, and then belts the chorus like he's Freddie Mercury crossed with Trent Reznor, but in the case of fan favorite "Enjoy the Silence," he's often off the mike, allowing the audience to take over the singing with a couple "come on!"'s in support. The first disc's "Black Celebration" and "But Not Tonight" preview the second disc's absolute overflow of classic chestnuts, up to and including the early hit "Just Can't Get Enough," which is reborn as a roto-tom-fueled stadium anthem. Those who don't like their Depeche so "big" and "rawk!" can skip it, but fans looking to celebrate some 34 years of dancing with the dour get to do so thanks to Live in Berlin, with their fists high in the air. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 16, 1990 | Rhino - Warner Records

In a word, stunning. Perhaps an odd word to use given that Violator continued in the general vein of the previous two studio efforts by Depeche Mode: Martin Gore's upfront lyrical emotional extremism and knack for a catchy hook filtered through Alan Wilder's ear for perfect arrangements, ably assisted by top English producer Flood. Yet the idea that this record would both dominate worldwide charts, while song for song being simply the best, most consistent effort yet from the band could only have been the wildest fantasy before its release. The opening two singles from the album, however, signaled something was up. First was "Personal Jesus," at once perversely simplistic, with a stiff, arcane funk/hip-hop beat and basic blues guitar chords, and tremendous, thanks to sharp production touches and David Gahan's echoed, snaky vocals. Then "Enjoy the Silence," a nothing-else-remains-but-us ballad pumped up into a huge, dramatic romance/dance number, commanding in its mock orchestral/choir scope. Follow-up single "Policy of Truth" did just fine as well, a low-key Motown funk number for the modern day with a sharp love/hate lyric to boot. To top it all off, the album itself scored on song after song, from the shuffling beat of "Sweetest Perfection" (well sung by Gore) and the ethereal "Waiting for the Night" to the guilt-ridden-and-loving-it "Halo" building into a string-swept pounder. "Clean" wraps up Violator on an eerie note, all ominous bass notes and odd atmospherics carrying the song. Goth without ever being stupidly hammy, synth without sounding like the clinical stereotype of synth music, rock without ever sounding like a "rock" band, Depeche here reach astounding heights indeed. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 6, 1987 | Rhino - Warner Records

Initially the title must have sounded like an incredibly pretentious boast, except that Depeche Mode then went on to do a monstrous world tour, score even more hits in America and elsewhere than ever before, and pick up a large number of name checks from emerging house and techno artists on top of all that. As for the music the masses got this time around, the opening cut, "Never Let Me Down Again," started things off wonderfully: a compressed guitar riff suddenly slamming into a huge-sounding percussion/keyboard/piano combination, anchored to a constantly repeated melodic hook, ever-building synth/orchestral parts at the song's end, and one of David Gahan's best vocals (though admittedly singing one of Martin Gore's more pedestrian lyrics). It feels huge throughout, like they taped Depeche recording at the world's largest arena show instead of in a studio. Other key singles "Strangelove" and the (literally) driving "Behind the Wheel" maintained the same blend of power and song skill, while some of the quieter numbers such as "The Things You Said" and "I Want You Now" showed musical and lyrical intimacy could easily co-exist with the big chart-busters. Add to that other winners like "To Have and to Hold," with its Russian radio broadcast start and dramatic, downward spiral of music accompanied by Gahan's subtly powerful take on a desperate Gore love lyric, and the weird, wonderful choral closer, "Pimpf," and Depeche's massive success becomes perfectly clear. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 25, 1986 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released March 21, 2018 | Venusnote Ltd.

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Rock - Released April 17, 2009 | Venusnote Ltd.

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 1984 | Warner Records

The peak of the band's industrial-gone-mainstream fusion, and still one of the best electronic music albums yet recorded, Some Great Reward still sounds great, with the band's ever-evolving musical and production skills matching even more ambitious songwriting from Martin Gore. "People Are People" appears here, but finds itself outclassed by some of Depeche Mode's undisputed classics, most especially the moody, beautiful "Somebody," a Gore-sung piano ballad that mixes its wit and emotion skillfully; "Master and Servant," an amped-up, slamming dance track that conflates sexual and economic politics to sharp effect; and the closing "Blasphemous Rumors," a slow-building anthemic number supporting one of Gore's most cynical lyrics, addressing a suicidal teen who finds God only to die soon afterward. Even lesser-known tracks like the low-key pulse of "Lie to Me" and the weirdly dreamy "It Doesn't Matter" showcase an increasingly confident band. Alan Wilder's arrangements veer from the big to the stripped down, but always with just the right touch, such as the crowd samples bubbling beneath "Somebody" or the call/response a cappella start to "Master and Servant." With Reward, David Gahan's singing style found the métier it was going to stick with for the next ten years, and while it's never gone down well with some ears, it still has a compelling edge to it that suits the material well. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 17, 2017 | Columbia

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Pop - Released September 23, 1998 | Rhino - Warner Records

It took Depeche Mode only four years to assemble their first singles compilation, but 12 to assemble The Singles 86>98. Appropriately, the second set was much more ambitious than The Singles 81>85, spanning two discs and 20 songs, plus a live version of "Everything Counts." The Singles 86>98 was an album that many fans, both casual and hardcore, waited patiently for, and for good reason -- Depeche Mode were always more effective as a singles band than as album artists. That's not to say that the double-disc compilation is perfect. DM's output fluctuated wildly during those 12 years, as the group hit both career highs and lows. It's possible to hear it all on this set, from "Strangelove" and "Never Let Me Down Again," through "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence," to "I Feel You" and "Barrel of a Gun." It's possible that some casual listeners will find that the collection meanders a bit too much for their tastes, but the end result is definitive and, along with The Singles 81>85, ranks as Depeche Mode's best, most listenable album. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 14, 2006 | Sire - Reprise

Consider this a primer, because there is no way a career spanning 25 years can be summarized justifiably within the cramped space of an 80-minute disc. The Best of Depeche Mode, Vol. 1 takes a very selective skip through the group's past, and it leaves no room for anything off Black Celebration -- an album many fans (albeit the most depressive ones) cite as a favorite. While the relatively thorough Singles 81>85 and Singles 86>98 can be seen as the proper entry route, they don't have the benefit of covering 2001's Exciter or 2005's excellent Playing the Angel, so this disc -- as of 2006, at least -- is very nearly the best possible way to get a feel for the whole daunting discography. Tending to stick to the singles that made the greatest impact on the mainstream and club charts, the selections do signify that the group hasn't lost any traction. Just compare the difference between 1981's "Just Can't Get Enough" and 2005's "Precious" to the difference between the Rolling Stones' "Time Is on My Side" (1964) and "Mixed Emotions" (1989); Depeche Mode remained on an even keel creatively, while the Stones were hailed for continuing to exist and for making music that didn't embarrass their legacy. (If that's not a slap in the face of real rock & rollers who laughed at the thought of synth pop as more than a silly trend, what is?) Also consider this: If a poll were to be conducted in order to determine the absolute favorite Depeche Mode song of all time, there would be at least 40 write-ins in addition to the 18 options (including a decent new song) provided here. So, if you should happen to pick up this disc as an introduction and find yourself knocked out, you have a lot of catching up in your future. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 4, 1997 | Warner Records

When news surfaced in 1995 that Alan Wilder had departed Depeche Mode to concentrate on his solo project Recoil, the immediate concern among fans was whether the band would be able to hit past heights again. Though Wilder's profile was always much lesser than that of Martin Gore and David Gahan -- and almost even that of Andy Fletcher, whose nonperformance live has always been a running joke in the fan community and who freely admits to generally being around merely to maintain a vibe with his childhood friend Gore -- his capability at arranging the songs over the years gave the band its increasingly distinct, unique edge. Combined with Gahan's near suicide and lengthy recovery from drugs, things looked bleak. Happily, Ultra turned out a winner; hooking up with Tim Simenon, longtime U.K. dance maven and producer of arty fare such as Gavin Friday's Adam 'n' Eve, Depeche delivered a strong album as a rejuvenated band. The most immediate change was Gahan's singing; for the first time ever, he took singing lessons beforehand, and his new control and projection simply shines, especially on the marvelous "It's No Good," a pulsing, tense, yet beautiful song with another deeply romantic Gore lyric. Opener "Barrel of a Gun" continues in the vein of arena-level stompers like "Never Let Me Down Again" and "I Feel You," with huge drum slams and scratching to boot, but Ultra mostly covers subtler territory, such as the slightly creepy "Sister of Night" and the gentle "The Love Thieves." Gore sings two winners: the orchestral, slow dance groove "Home" and "The Bottom Line," featuring steel guitar and Can's Jaki Liebezeit on drums, distinctly different territory for Depeche. Closing with "Insight," a quite lovely, building ballad, Ultra showed Depeche wasn't ready to quit by any means. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 3, 2006 | Warner Records

In between Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion, a lot happened: Nirvana rewrote the ideas of what "alternative" was supposed to be, while Nine Inch Nails hit the airwaves as the most clearly Depeche-influenced new hit band around. In the meantime, the band went through some high-profile arguing as David Gahan turned into a long-haired, leather-clad rocker and pushed for a more guitar-oriented sound. Yet the odd thing about Songs of Faith and Devotion is that it sounds pretty much like a Depeche Mode album, only with some new sonic tricks courtesy of Alan Wilder and co-producer Flood. Perhaps even odder is the fact that it works incredibly well all the same. "I Feel You," opening with a screech of feedback, works its live drums well, but when the heavy synth bass kicks in with the wailing backing vocals, even most rockers might find it hard to compete. Martin Gore's lyrical bent, as per the title, ponders relationships through distinctly religious imagery; while the gambit is hardly new, on songs like the centerpiece "In Your Room," the combination of personal and spiritual love blends perfectly. Outside musicians appear for the first time, including female backing singers on a couple of tracks, most notably the gospel-flavored "Condemnation" and the uilleann pipes on "Judas," providing a lovely intro to the underrated song (later covered by Tricky). "Rush" is the biggest misstep, a too obvious sign that Nine Inch Nails was a recording-session favorite to unwind to. But with other numbers such as "Walking in My Shoes" and "The Mercy in You" to recommend it, Songs of Faith and Devotion continues the Depeche Mode winning streak. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 14, 1983 | Rhino - Warner Records

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The full addition of Alan Wilder to Depeche Mode's lineup created a perfect troika that would last another 11 years, as the combination of Martin Gore's songwriting, Wilder's arranging, and David Gahan's singing and live star power resulted in an ever more compelling series of albums and singles. Construction Time Again, the new lineup's first full effort, is a bit hit and miss nonetheless, but when it does hit, it does so perfectly. Right from the album's first song, "Love, In Itself," something is clearly up; Depeche never sounded quite so thick with its sound before, with synths arranged into a mini-orchestra/horn section and real piano and acoustic guitar spliced in at strategic points. Two tracks later, "Pipeline" offers the first clear hint of an increasing industrial influence (the bandmembers were early fans of Einstürzende Neubauten), with clattering metal samples and oddly chain gang-like lyrics and vocals. The album's clear highlight has to be "Everything Counts," a live staple for years, combining a deceptively simple, ironic lyric about the music business with a perfectly catchy but unusually arranged blending of more metallic scraping samples and melodica amid even more forceful funk/hip-hop beats. Elsewhere, on "Shame" and "Told You So," Gore's lyrics start taking on more of the obsessive personal relationship studies that would soon dominate his writing. Wilder's own songwriting contributions are fine musically, but lyrically, "preachy" puts it mildly, especially the environment-friendly "The Landscape Is Changing." © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 15, 2001 | Warner Records

It's rare to find bands capable of keeping their own best qualities to the fore while trying something new each time out, but Depeche Mode demonstrate that balance in full on the marvelous Exciter. Arguably the first album made by the group as a cohesive unit since Violator (and bearing some resemblance to that record in overall title and song names -- compare "The Sweetest Condition" with "The Sweetest Perfection"), Exciter finds the trio again balancing pop catchiness with experimental depths. As with Ultra, an outside producer helps focus the end results in new, intriguing directions -- in this case, said producer is Mark Bell, known for his work with Björk but also as part of Warp Records' flagship act LFO, which always acknowledged their own debut to Depeche. Bell's ear for minimal, crisp beats and quick, subtle arrangements and changes suit Martin Gore's songs beautifully. If there are few storming arena-shaking numbers this time out, the exquisite delicacy throughout is addicting, with Gore's guitar providing slippery and stinging leads to the smoky, romantic flow of Exciter. "When the Body Speaks" is a particular winner, his gentle work and a backing string section combining just right. David Gahan's voice, already audibly benefiting from lessons on Ultra, is even more supple and passionate than before, ranging from the fuller delivery on the snaky charm of "Shine" to the haunting album-closer, "Goodnight Lovers," a romantic lullaby with perfect counterpoint backing vocals. Gore's own singing remains equally fine, as does his lyrical obsessions on, well, obsession -- "Breathe," which quotes more Bible names per verse than most preachers, makes for a good example on both fronts. When the band fully crank it up, the results work there too -- "The Dead of Night" makes for a far superior nod to Gore's glam roots and Depeche's own industrial dance descendants than Songs of Faith and Devotion's "Rush" did. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 28, 2004 | Reprise - Mute

One of Depeche Mode's few non-album singles, "Shake the Disease" is also one of the band's best overall songs, a new refinement of both Martin Gore's lyrical abilities regarding romantic obsession and the group's music in general. The arrangement is at once sly, sensuous, and just harsh enough, a combination of clattering noise samples and soothing synth wash and melody. The intertwining of David Gahan and Gore's singing, the latter's wordless backing harmonies and crooned "Understand me" from time to time (a perfect balance to the former's lead approach), is just lovely. The "remixed extended" version of the song that surfaces is just that and not much more, though the extension of the overall atmosphere of the song, cool and sharp at once, makes for a pleasant mood-setter. Some of the new instrumental-only parts are quite elegant in context. The "edit the shake" remix is much more of a thorough revision, with odd stutters and repetitions, backward echoes, and so forth. It makes it not quite as danceable, but is inventive enough regardless. The B-side was one of the band's odder numbers, "Flexible," a quick semi-romp with what sounds like a distorted/looped harmonica as the lead instrument backed by banjo. It's pleasant, just not great, and as such makes much more sense as a B-side. Its own "remixed extended" version brings out more of the separate elements used to create the song, which is interesting in its own way, but like the original song itself, not deathless. Wrapping up the CD version of the release is the "metal" mix of Some Great Reward track "Something to Do" -- it's a great take, and lives up to its name by emphasizing the metal-clanging samples and melodies created from said samples, nervous and wired. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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101

Pop - Released March 10, 1989 | Rhino - Warner Records

As an event, Depeche Mode's huge (attendance around 60,000) Los Angeles Rose Bowl concert in 1988 remains legendary; no single artist show had totally sold out the venue since eight years beforehand, while the film documentary done by Dylan-filmer D.A. Pennebaker based around the show clearly demonstrated fans' intense commitment to a near-decade-old band most mainstream critics continued to stupidly portray as a flash-in-the-pan synth pop effort. This start-to-final-encore record of the concert showcases a band perfectly able to carry its music from studio to stage as well as any other combo worth its salt should be able to do. Understandably focused on Music for the Masses material, the album shows Depeche experimenting with alternate arrangements at various points for live performance; big numbers like "Never Let Me Down Again," "Stripped," and "Blasphemous Rumors" pack even more of a wallop here. Slower numbers and more than a couple of ballads help to vary the hit-packed set, including a fine "Somebody" and "The Things You Said" combination sung by Martin Gore. "Pleasure Little Treasure," on record an okay B-side, becomes a monster rocker live, the type of unexpected surprise one could expect from a solid band no matter what the music. With a triumphant set of closing numbers, including magnificent takes on "Never Let Me Down Again," "Master and Servant," and the set-ending "Everything Counts," with what sounds like the entire audience singing the chorus well after the song has finally ended, 101 does far better at its task than most might have guessed. © Ned Raggett /TiVo