Monday, October 4, 2010

Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode

Is it OK if I repeat a band already? I've got a lot of stuff still to get to, and I haven't even started with Erasure or Ultravox or several other bands that are going to be huge on this blog, with many entries yet. Not only that, the song I'm posting is questionable from a chronological standpoint. While I've called this blog "Synthpop 80s" and restricted (at least for the time being) song selections to the 80s accordingly, the song I'm talking about today was actually released as a single on 5 February 1990... so it misses the 80s by just a few weeks. To make matters even worse, this Richard X remix was released on a 2004 remix re-release (although it's quite faithful to the original, so the fact that it's a remix shouldn't throw anyone off...)

But I'm doing it anyway, because Depeche Mode figures so incredibly hugely in my own personal taste, and has cast such a long shadow over the genre overall. I once asked someone why, in the modern, post market crash synthpop scene there are so few female vocalists, and the tongue in cheek (but only partly so) reply was that the reason for it is that women don't sound enough like Dave Gahan.


Be that as it may, Depeche Mode is like a giant among men in electronic music. Even before the 80s ended, and before Depeche Mode really hit their big mainstream success (with "Enjoy the Silence" and Violator overall) outfits like Red Flag, Camouflage, Seven Red Seven and Cause & Effect enjoyed modest mainstream success based largely on the fact that they sounded like Depeche Mode.

And while tracks from the late 80s were only modestly successful on the pop charts, in both the UK and the US (oddly, they were smash hits on Continental Europe), their underground tenacity was not to be denied. This was astoundingly demonstrated in 1988 during their Music for the Masses tour, when they played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for more than 60,000 fans---the concert that later became the 101 concert double CD.

Anyway, Depeche Mode almost created the 80s synthpop scene in their own image in many ways; Vince Clark helmed Depeche Mode was the bubbly, effusive synthpop that lived on in his other projects such as Yaz and Erasure, and the darker, Martin Gore helmed Depeche Mode became the standard. Between the two goalposts, you could fit almost everything stylistically from the 80s synthpop scene after earlier outfits stared fading away in the first years of the decade. So while "Enjoy the Silence" technically misses having been released in the 80s, it was written in the 80s, and sums up the work that Depeche Mode had been doing all decade to create their brand, and with it, the synthpop scene as we know it.

To say nothing of the fact that I, personally, thought and probably still do think, that the "Golden Age" of Depeche Mode is probably the best synthpop ever made. It's artistic, it's danceable, and it's lyrically complex and thoughtful.

Oddly, I don't think Violator is the Golden Age of Depeche Mode. I mean, I'm sure that they do, since it was their peak of popularity. And I'm sure that most other fans do too, since that was when many of them were first introduced to the band. But I always thought that Some Great Reward, Black Celebration and Music For the Masses was the peak of Depeche Mode's musical career, and on Violator, the music was often hampered by hoaky, overplayed guitar effects, a shortened tracklist, and several forgettable, filler tracks. Frankly, some of the b-sides from the period were better than many of the album tracks ("Dangerous", "Sea of Sin".)

That said, "Enjoy the Silence" is not only the most iconic Depeche Mode song ever, their biggest hit, but also one of my favorites, the album it came from notwithstanding.

No comments:

Post a Comment