Yes, I know that is not really what KMFDM stands for, but this post is not really about them anyway – this post is about Depeche Mode, and how we should decidedly not kill them (we should kill Good Charlotte instead – are they still making music? I can’t tell you what it is, but something about those guys makes me want to punch them in their mouths).
Depeche Mode is a band I’ve loved for a long time, but as of late mainly for their past work, as I’d all but written them off in recent years. Enter Scott, to introduce me to Playing the Angel and Sounds of the Universe, and by Jove, they are damned good albums – perhaps their best bits of work to date. Erase from your mind what or who you think Depeche Mode are, and go buy these two albums. I can’t get enough of them. I’ve woken up with “Precious,” or “A Pain That I’m Used To,” or “Truth Is (You’re Miles Away)” or “Corrupt” in my head every morning for the past two weeks (and this morning I can add another to the list, waking up with “Perfect” – and the song hasn’t left me all day). And it’s not just catchy hooks and riffs: they are musically, technically and lyrically very, very good.
I recall my introduction to Depeche Mode, 1990 or so, when my eldest sister brings Violator to my room, and plays first “Personal Jesus,” followed by “Waiting for the Night” (one may argue that part of my particular attachment to Violator is due to sentiment – associating the album with the relationship I had with my departed sister). Nonetheless, at the time I didn’t really know what to make of it. “Personal Jesus” was a foreign, but “Waiting for the Night” fascinated.
It would be several years until I really considered myself a fan of the band (I actually have a hard time considering myself a “fan” of any band – but that’s a conversation for another time), but I have since collected a few other albums. Unfortunately, though they’d done some decent music on the two albums following the near-perfect Violator (I maintain songs four through seven of Violator consist of one of the best mid-album track listings of all time), I never felt Songs of Faith and Devotion or Exciter really captured the, um…goodness (I’m tired and can’t think of an appropriately pretentious word or description) of previous works and I wrote them off as having their best behind them. Until now. This has been a reinvention of sorts, which Scott speculates was spurred on by the loss of keyboardist Alan Wilder (among other band problems, not the least of which being Dave Gahan’s heroin addiction and subsequent recovery), who felt that his contributions to the band had been substantially more than the amount respect and credit he received for it. The process has been long for them, but worth it, in my opinion. Playing the Angel and Sounds of the Universe, with few exceptions, consist of the things we love about music: a nice balance of surprise and fulfilled expectation, and a sense of the ineffable come to mind, not to mention being lyrically apropos for my year.
These last two albums are just… good. Damn. Good.
P.S. Please don’t kill Good Charlotte. No amount of bad music is worth taking a life.