Disclaimer: In no way do I wish this to be a hate post, it’s just a re-evaluation of some of the core beliefs of many on the subject of Depeche Mode. In my opinion, Depeche Mode’s best album is 1988’s Music for the Masses. It presents itself as the best culmination of their repeated attempts to marry provocative lyrics with their stadium-sized ambition and hunger for popularity. It has been nearly matched twice, with 1986’s Black Celebration and 2005’s Playing the Angel. All three of these releases show Depeche Mode at their best, perfecting their formula to create albums that stand out among their 14-album discography. I’ve always had a problem with Depeche Mode despite these solid releases.
The cover of New Order’s 1989 release, Technique, depicts a cherub upon a gradient of pinks and purples. Peter Saville, New Order’s long-time sleeve designer suggested, retrospectively, that this was to reflect the hedonism of the time, an ode to the drug-fuelled excess of the 1980s. While this may be true, the striking cover can also be seen as a break with the past. New Order’s previous covers had been somewhat muted, the monotone cover of 1985’s Low-Life, the brazen aluminium of 1986’s Brotherhood, even the pops of colour in 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies cover seemed subdued somehow. The music reflects this. Similarly, the music held within Technique reflects its cover – a break with the past in favour for an embracing of all the musical touches New Order had previously only hinted at; a complete celebration of dance.