40 years ago today: Depeche Mode

By Savannah Higley

Depeche Mode ® 1981 Fin Serck-Hanssen 

October 5, 1981. Exactly 41 years ago. Rising New Wave band Depeche Mode releases their debut album “Speak & Spell.”  This is the first step in their rich history.

Speak & Spell sets itself apart from their other albums with a different sound and style thanks to their writer Vince Clarke. Clarke quickly departed the band after the release of this album, causing the rest of their music to be written by guitarist Martin Gore. This album is regarded as being more upbeat and bubblegum compared to their later work. Listening to their entire discography shows truly how different they can be.

Different isn’t bad though; this album  topped at number 10 on the UK album charts.  Speak & Spell is considered an essential album to electro-pop. What you find on Spotify isn’t the original track listing. Depeche Mode is known for remasters, mixes, and reformatting.  This album was originally released with 11 tracks, but was remastered in 2006 with the addition of one of their top hits “Just Can’t Get Enough.”  Speak & Spell has some great upbeat songs for people who aren’t exactly in the mood for Depeche Mode’s dark and brooding sound. 

Depeche Mode is a great band for anyone who’s into electronic music. They use not only synth but more traditional instruments, such as guitars. Depeche Mode is a happy medium between post-punk and synth-pop. For new listeners, some good tastes are Depeche Mode’s number one hits. Music snobs may be prejudiced against chart-topping songs but the truth is that these songs topped charts for a reason. These songs are good! Catchy and easy listening, Depeche Mode’s hits will worm their way into your brain and refuse to leave. Heres your list: 

  1. Enjoy The Silence
  2. Just Can’t Get Enough
  3. Personal Jesus
  4. Policy Of Truth
  5. Strangelove
Depeche Mode, photo Courtesy HBO/Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

For the listener wishing to dig a little deeper into the Depeche discography, the albums Violator (1990) and  Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993) contain the most hits and the best individual songs. Explore their albums to get a deeper understanding of their songs and motifs, such as their religious symbols. There’s a lot of continuity between their songs and patterns that take a deeper understanding to notice. 

Don’t like Depeche Mode? That’s okay! The ‘Mode isn’t for everyone. Like Depeche Mode? That’s great! Here’s some other bands you could branch out to that will take you deeper into the genre we call New Wave. 

  1. The Cure
  2. Duran Duran
  3. Tears for Fears
  4. New Order
  5. INXS

Stepping out of your comfort zone is the first step in possibly finding your next obsession. If you take Depeche Mode out for a test drive, you might like it!

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