1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 4

Violator, by Depeche Mode
Suggested by Bryan Connolly

Violator. The most Metal-sounding album title of the project so far. For an album of electronic music performed by a group of lads from Basildon.

Depeche Mode have always been a fringe band on my musical hairdo. I’ve loved the obvious songs for years – more on that later – and I’ve often thought they’d be a band I’d embrace if I ever bothered to listen to more than tracks on compilation albums or nostalgic radio stations. Today marks the first time I’ve ever listened to one of their albums as god intended.

Thoughts? Mixed. Mixed with a positive slant.

There’s a lot to love about Violator. The two standout tracks are, predictably, Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence. Personal Jesus is legit one of my favourite songs of all time. I have a curated playlist called Last Song on Earth, which houses fifty songs by fifty artists, songs which I deem to be the artists’ definitive release or crowning achievement. Songs I think the artist would say are their most important works, the ones to be placed in the time capsule and shot off into space. Personal Jesus fits that bill, and was a Top 10 selection there. Enjoy the Silence is equally recognisable, and very enjoyable.

The other songs on offer are all decent, but there’s nothing that reaches the heights of the abovementioned bangers. Both Clean and Policy of Truth tick a few boxes for me, even if the latter has some rather clunky lyrics, and if I’m honest there isn’t a bad tune on here.

My only issue, I think, is the strength of the vocals. The understated, almost spoken nature of the singer is a style choice and a product of its time, but the lack of dynamism and range limits the scope of the songs. The vocals certainly work for individual tracks, demonstrably proven when you look at their classic singles, but they become a little boring when you hit a full album.

Then again, I doubt the album would gain anything if it were full of the mountainous peaks of Shirley Bassey.

As you’ve guessed, my favourite track is Personal Jesus, not close. And overall, I’m giving Violater 7/10, and firmly stamping Depeche Mode as a Singles Band. Great songs, in isolation.

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