Music For The Masses

Depeche Mode

Sire/Mute Records, 1987

http://www.depechemode.com

REVIEW BY: Kenny S. McGuane

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/14/2009

Music For The Masses is Depeche Mode’s sixth studio album and it would be the record that secured the band as a major musical force to be reckoned with. The album elevated Depeche Mode to a status they undoubtedly never thought obtainable, especially because they’d already been making records for the better part of a decade. So the success that came with Music For The Masses must have come as quite a surprise to them. It’s unusual, to say the least, for a group to have such a sudden change of events six albums into their career.

The album turned Depeche Mode into a band adored worldwide, seemingly overnight. Evidence of this phenomenon can be seen in the 1989 concert film my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Depeche Mode 101, which documents their last show on the Music For The Masses tour where they played to over 80,0000 people at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. They’d become one of the most important bands in the world.

The success Depeche Mode had with Music For The Masses isn’t coincidental; the record is a nearly flawless and totally unified statement, blending everything Martin Gore and the band had been experimenting with on the last five albums into a single Depeche Mode extravaganza. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the songs on Music For The Masses are enormous and deliberately anthemic, which made synth-pop a viable candidate for stadium-sized shows and tours.

“Never Let Me Down Again,” “Strangelove,” and “Behind The Wheel” are relentless in their pulsating and synth-driven danceability, and remain some of the biggest sounding dance tracks in club history, while slow-burners like “The Things You Said” and “Little 15” are nestled nicely between other non-charting album highlights “Sacred” and “Nothing.” Although a low-point on the album and a pretty weak album-closer, “Pimpf” would prove to be a terrifying and perfect song to use at the beginning of each show on the album’s accompanying world tour.

Music For The Masses becomes an especially compelling musical statement when it’s evaluated within the Depeche Mode timeline and context. After an album as big as this, it seems unlikely there was anywhere else to go, but they’d push the envelope even further after a two-year hiatus with 1990’s indescribably successful Violator. In the end, retrospectively, Music For The Masses serves as the starting point for the second, more mind-bendingly successful phase of Depeche Mode’s lengthy career, one which appeared to be barely getting started.

Rating: A

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© 2009 Kenny S. McGuane 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/Mute Records, and is used for informational purposes only.