site intro go to year fan club miscellaneous links
BE THE DEITY
[NME, 20th March 1993. Words: David Quantick. Illustration: Run.]
" Despite the initial suspicion that this album is Cliff Richard gone industrial, further listening suggest that the real subject of these songs seems to be our other old mates, sex and love and fidelity. "
Summary: An enthusiastic review of Songs Of Faith And Devotion by an author who seems to have tapped into why Depeche Mode have retained their appeal and who doesn't start by having to explain why they aren't synth wusses. Positive without dropping into idolising the band. [635 words]
View pages: page 1
also: The Guardian,
12th March 1993
"Purged" [Q, April 1993]
"Reach Out, Touch Mode - The History" [Melody Maker, 3rd April 1993]
"Depeche Mode: Electro Innovators In A 'Fashion'" [From "Tower Guide to Dance and Electronic Music", Tower Records, 2001]
GAHAN: “I dunno whether or not to go on stage and say ‘Hello, Pasadena’ or
‘Hello Pasadena Rosebowl’ or just ‘Hello Rosebowl’.”
COMPANY TYPE: “Well, why not just go on and say, ‘Hello Pasadena Rosebowl,
we’re Depeche Mode and we’re happy to be playing here tonight’?”
DAVE GAHAN: “’Cos I’m not f---ing Shakespeare, that’s why.”
from the Depeche Mode film 101 
Something like that anyway. The point is that Depeche Mode have always managed to avoid the wanking pretension of certain rock acts, while at the same time making music more thoughtful and powerful than that of their pop peers.
Like New Order only more sort of Essex, Depeche Mode over the years have made the most unpretentious arty avant garde type music ever. And hey! It’s album number nine and they’ve done it again.
‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’ follows the Mode tradition of having an excessively portentous title, a vague linking theme between the songs and a sleeve that will look majorly dated in a year or so’s time. It’s got some guitars on it, a string quartet and some excellent scraping synth weird noises, it’s bloody loud and Dave Gahan, judging by Anton Corbijn’s somewhat Anton Corbijnesque liner photos, has lost about nine stone and grown a beard.
This last is relevant. Style fans will therefore note that depeche Mode – nearly out-Depeche Moded by U2 on the Corbijn / Berlin / monochrome / Eno-styled ‘Achtung Baby’ – have returned with an album which out-‘Achtung Baby’s ‘Achtung Baby’. ‘Songs Of Faith…’ is Depeche Mode in all-out moody Euro art stadium rock, um, mode, and it leaves all competitors spitting ineptitude at the starting gate.
It kicks off with the single, ‘I Feel You’, in a burst of industrial static, a song which takes INXS’s arena bluster and turns it into a dark and mean glitter stomp. After this, matters charge on, ringing some familiar Mode changes, and taking on some odd stuff along the way. There are uilleann pipes on ‘Judas’ (mind you, there are uilleann pipes on bloody everything these days). There are hints of 1970s dub on ‘Rush’. And there’s gospel singing on ‘Get Right With Me’. In fact, God gets into a lot of things on ‘Songs Of Faith…’
If this album has a theme – and let’s hope it doesn’t, this isn’t 19 sodding 68 – it’s linked to our old mate, Christianity. Soulful choirs back Gahan from time to time, faith and mercy and higher love get mentioned a lot, as does Judas and Doubting Thomas and heaven. But fear not, brave atheists of rock – for despite the initial suspicion that this album is Cliff Richard gone industrial, further listening suggest that the real subject of these songs seems to be our other old mates, sex and love and fidelity. Thank, um, God for that.
‘Songs Of Faith…’ is a more obviously emotional and mature album than other Depeche Mode records – which is not to say that the other ones aren’t, they’re just less blatantly so – and while on occasions I’d prefer the wide-eyed pop cynicism of ‘Black Celebration’ or the dreamy weird rock of ‘Violator’, this is an album that every sane person should own. The synth pop band who are also the stadium rock group you can love, the Essex boys who make the best European strange-o music going, the band who wrote ‘Personal Jesus’ as a comment on the absurdity of faith and then did this album, Depeche Mode are much to interesting to avoid now that they are grown up. I await album number ten with major interest, which is hardly ever the case with most bands past the decade mark.
But hey! Comparisons are odorous (as Dave Gahan wouldn’t say). ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’ is a very fine record indeed. (8)
- The writer has really mangled the quote, but he's got the gist. The 'record
company type' is the tour manager Andy Franks, and the conversation between them
DAVE: "No, I don't think I should say Pasadena. I've been thinking about this today, it's been playing on my mind. I think I should say, 'Good evening, everybody'. - Nah, that's terrible, 'everybody'. 'Hello people'."
FRANKSY: "Why don't you just say 'Good evening everyone and welcome to the Concert For The Masses'?"
DAVE: "Who do you think I am, fucking Wordsworth?!" [continue]
[back to top]
site intro go to year fan club miscellaneous links