Depeche Mode

Sire / Reprise Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In 1990, some people in America might have considered Depeche Mode to be a one-hit wonder. They had scored a hit with "People Are People," but never followed it up with anything as successful. (Some songs, however, were popular in the alternative circles.)

Then came 1990 and Violator, an album that broke David Gahan and company into the big time. Their mixture of synthesized music, danceable melodies and dark subjects made the album a smash hit in many circles. Eight years later, some of the songs on this album have become terribly overplayed, but the album still remains the band's best work.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first single, "Personal Jesus," isn't quite a dance number, but it still contains enough of a beat that it became a hit in the dance circles. As a track, it wouldn't have been my first pick as a single, and I would have liked a little more development in the structure of the song, but it is still a decent enough track.

If any song was a shoo-in for a lead-off single, a few come to mind. The album's opener "World In My Eyes," complete with one of the few synthesized drum tracks I like, contained some of Depeche Mode's best musical work, and is an addictive track. Likewise, "Policy Of Truth" would have been a great first single, though this album tacks on about two minutes of weirdness to the track before the song we're all familiar with on the radio kicks in.

Surprisingly, the song I would have selected as a single never made the cut. "Halo" contains the best chorus of all the songs on Violator, and is an incredible track. Why this song never made it to the airwaves we'll never know. Even "Sweetest Perfection" has enough of a draw that it would fit on many alternative radio formats.

Of the nine songs on Violator, only two songs don't hold up as well to the well-known tracks. "Blue Dress" and "Clean" are okay tracks, but they're nothing special when held up to numbers like "Enjoy The Silence" and "Policy Of Truth".

While Violator is an almost perfect album, the listener might have become desensitized to some of the songs because they've been played to death on the radio. We've all heard "Personal Jesus" to the point where if it comes on the radio, chances are I'll turn it off rather than hear the station pound it into the ground again. However, when heard in the context of the whole album, these songs seem to gain a fresh life.

Violator undoubtedly is the best album that Depeche Mode has ever recorded, and it's easy to see why this one album made them international superstars.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire / Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.