Record of the day: Depeche Mode, "The Singles 81/85"

Record of the day: Depeche Mode, “The Singles 81/85”

Depeche Mode
The Singles 81/85 (Cd Mute LCDMUTEL 1)

Initially lumped together with the chart-topping teenage techno-pop phenomenon, Depeche Mode proved to be a group of much greater musical depth than many of their hairy colleagues from the '80s.
The writing of Martin Gore (author of almost all of their repertoire) has abandoned the danceable lightheartedness that Vince Clarke had injected into their first hits “Just Can't Get Enough” and “Dreaming of Me”, passing a coat of black paint on the sound of the group and on the themes of the songs, often aimed at the darkest sides of the mind.

Even Dave Gahan's vocals have taken on deeper tones over the years, reaching a chilling capacity.
of expression that mixes well with the entirely electronic landscapes and programmed beats that the rest of the group builds around it.

Songs like “Everything Counts”, “Master and Servant”, “Shake the Disease” and “Blasphemous Rumours” address themes such as religion, sadomasochism, paranoia, humiliation, repressive capitalism, sentimental obsession, jealousy, with a completely detached and ruthless gaze and succeed at the same time to transform themselves into powerful chart hits thanks to refrains that stick like glue in the mind after just one listen, supported by highly effective arrangements, based on a few rhythmic-melodic elements repeated incessantly and immediately recognizable original sounds that have set the standard in the scope of British pop and were subsequently imitated by numerous groups.

If “People Are People” and “Get the Balance Right” achieved successes of global proportions, becoming authentic anthems of the post-new wave generation and becoming popular in discos, no less interesting are compositions such as “It's Called a Heart” and “Love In Itself,” at the same time engaging and cerebral in a decidedly fascinating way, light years away from the cheerful synth-pop of groups like Yazoo, Yello and ABC, to which Depeche Mode have too often been compared by English critics.

This collection (which was followed by a further compilation that dates back to '98) has been remastered impeccably, even if the totally synthetic nature of this music does not allow for particular listening nuances and favors the impact dimension over the single detail.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.