Last (and beginnings of this) year was Depeche Mode's the way it hasn't been since 1990, when they released Violator and became the world's biggest band for a very special 12 month cycle; the band issued Playing The Angel to the masses, who responded with fervor by putting it on the best selling charts and all, they went on tour even to Uranus, they came to Mexico, selling the whole damn stadium of the Foro Sol in less than an hour, obliging them to schedule a second date which sold out even faster!!!! It was Depeche Mode's year so much that it made me step back as far as i could from them, i was sick of them; it wasn't that i didn't like Playing The Angel, in fact, it was one of my favorite albums of the year, or that i thought that finally, after twenty-something years of fame it finally went over their heads (i think they are physically incapable of that), it's just that it was too much Depeche Mode, i couldn't get away from them, you could hear them everywhere, people who normally wear U2 t-shirts all of a sudden were wearing DM shirts. i had never in the time i've liked the Depeche Mode, experienced something like this; since, for the most part, they have been more like a cult band, although all their singles and videos have always had heavy rotation, but never in the level of seeing EVERY-FUCKING-BODY BECOMING A FAN, people with not the faintest idea of music; it gets on my nerves.
It sort of reminds me of the era when i got to learn of the existance of the band...yes, this is another of those stories where i originally hated a certain band just to finally get how awesome they really are in the end. I distinctly remember a conversation i had with someone in which i was defending the artistic and musical merits of Pearl Jam (people who know me will find this very amusing) and this person questioned me if i was a Depeche Mode fan, accusation which i denied or, more like, since i was around 12 years old at the time, pronounced them being "horrible faggots that are afraid of guitars" (come to think of it, i express myself in very similar terms now as i did then) and that their music was disgusting, the other person replied that it was impossible for me to like Pearl Jam but not Depeche Mode at the same time which seemed completely idiotic, since neither band sounds anything alike, like comparing Westlife to the Velvet Underground (even if two bands sound very similar, people might like one and dislike the other, since it's most probably that one of the two inspired the other, therefore one band being appreciated as unoriginal and lacking in inspiration, unlike the other more influential one), i had a strong repulsion towards them, probably because of their image, their lack of guitars and distortion (i had a saying back then that said "if it doesn't have distortion, it sucks") and their popularity, even though this was during the Songs Of Faith and Devotion era. It wasn't until Ultra was released and i listened to "Barrel Of A Gun" that i heard and, most importantly, felt who good they could be and, in part, helped me get into electronica; in that sense, that single was the perfect crossover song for me, with it's strong drum machines, background wah guitar and it's atmosphere of imminent aggressiveness, How could i say no? Especially since i was coming from being into Nine Inch Nails and Ministry.
It's strange for a band like this to become one of my very favorites, someone incredibly popular with songs on the radio; on the DVD that comes with their recent Best Of compilation, which has been aired recently on VH1 here, Martin Gore or Alan Wilder or someone else said that, early on, the band was undecided whether they wanted to be a cult band or unabashedly commercial and, the truth which anyone can conclude with a simple gaze upon their career is that they have achieved both; their music is not shallow and dumb, au contraire, it's a texturized dark minimalist style that can give them a way to experiment, incorporating everything from pure country blues ("Personal Jesus", "I Feel You") to it's most adventurous strain (the acoustic licks plus IDM-like shifting beat of "Dream On"). But what really hooks me is the vocals, i'm a person who doesn't like ultra polished voices and doesn't really pay attention to the lyrics, yet i have a strong liking of well done vocal melodies (which explains why i like so much pop music); with Depeche Mode, the vocal melody is so much a part of the arrangement and instrumention that, without them, the songs would sound half-assed; the melodies and words on the lyrics are mashed up so well that it's impossible not to pay attention to either, with the lyrics tending from perfect rhymes ("Promises me i'm as safe as houses/As long as i remember who's wearing the trousers") to well detailed stories and reflections ("Blasphemous Rumours"), screaming for you to scream along with them, all delivered with amazing power by Dave Gahan (and sometimes, chief songwriter Martin Gore), who is probably the only guy who can sing "well" without getting tiresome. More than anything, though, Depeche Mode are, thematically, not just on the lyrics but on their instrumentation, arrangements, voices, feelings, etc. about the passion one can have for obsession, from the most simple of concepts as accepting someone else or putting a two note guitar riff in the back of a wall of synths to the most profound relationships humans can get, about love and sex, the interest and stress of wanting somebody so much for what that person can fill us, to the point of feeling internal redemption that reaches the farthest point of the soul in which the most tender kiss or the wildest of orgasms has a spot that defines us and it makes us feel part of the universe and absolves us from the march of time at once; no wonder most of the girls i have been interested in have a predilaction for Violator as much as i have.
I've been so tired of Depeche Mode that i haven't heard them in a long while (i'm still a little hurt that i couldn't go see them live), it's been like a year since i've heard Playing The Angel; but, after watching the aforementioned documentary on VH1 (crap channel, although they show great movies in it here and their Classic segment sometimes has good stuff, like when i saw the Flaming Lips' "She Don't Use Jelly" video), i couldn't resist and decided to listen to them again and, to be honest, i just can't say no to Depeche Mode, i simply can't deny their music.
That's why i'm sharing with you a mini mix i did of the songs i've been diggin on this Depeche Mode week.
Depeche Mode - Pop Obsessed
01. Useless 02. Strangelove 03. Blasphemous Rumours 04. Walking In My Shoes 05. Halo 06. People Are People 07. When The Body Speaks 08. Enjoy The Silence