Thursday, November 7, 2013

Depeche Mode - speak and spell (Mute)

Hard electro gods nowadays but a lot more poppy when they released this, their debut album, back in 1981. Its a masterpiece, simple as that. A mixture of poppy thrills, lovely hooks and early electronic experiments, but in a good way. Some contemporary albums that explored what the new electronics and synths could do are largely unlistenable, this is not. Far from it. However its not perfect, being elevated by the excellent singles...

"New life" is a bit cloying though, it has some nice bleeps and melodies but the vocals and chorus are a bit insipid. Lets move onto "Puppets", now this is a fantastic song. It still has the poppy sound but an undercurrent of darkness, the grim edge of the early 80s synth soundscape. Its the sound of being trapped in TRON forever, endlessly de-ressed by a techno-fascist madman.

The song that follows it "Boys say go!" is hard to define, its a poppy mash thats both annoying and intriguing in equal measure. "Whats your name?" is similar, at first listen its a bit throwaway but the ambiguity is appealing. The singles "Just can't get enough" and "Dreaming of me" (their debut single) are among the album's highlights, solid pop tracks. The latter has always been one of my favourite DM tracks, raw untidy synths promising so much, which was delivered too. The version on my album is the extended cold end version with its slightly haywire ending, excellent. Maybe this is an album of good singles tracks and the odd track highlight like "Puppets", a bit unfair but some of the album tracks are a bit unmemorable. But when the singles are so good who cares?

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