Thursday, September 28, 2017

Classic Album Review: Depeche Mode - A Broken Frame (1982)

Digging out a review written yonks ago and published elsewhere, to take a look back at an album enjoying its 35th birthday this week:

Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame is on the whole an excellent album, and wonderful for me on a personal level for the memories it evokes, but it is probably fair to say that non-converts will find it flawed in terms of its overall consistency.

Often overshadowed by the band’s debut, Speak & Spell, the follow-up nonetheless opens strongly enough with six of Depeche Mode’s finest, including two of their very best early singles - ‘Leave In Silence’ and ‘See You’ … but by track seven, the saccharine ‘The Meaning Of Love’, and track eight, the rather awful ‘A Photograph Of You’, the dated nature of the band’s early Eighties synth-pop sound starts to wear a little thin.

This was Depeche Mode’s first release without the band’s original driving force Vince Clarke (he of Yazoo, Assembly, and Erasure infamy) so we can probably put any gripes we have about uneven content down to the fact that this was a fledgling band enduring its first transitional period.

When they’re good though, they’re very very good - especially so during a strong mid-career period (see 1990’s Violator) - and there are a couple of real gems outwith the singles on here:

‘Satellite’ is a lovely slice of synth-induced skank, electronic ina Reggae-stylee, and the instrumental ‘Nothing To Fear’ is a personal highlight for the events it recalls from my youth - none of which can be repeated on a family-friendly blog. ‘My Secret Garden’ is also a favourite - but I’m not quite sure whether it is unrepentantly brilliant or ridiculously fey. Probably both. Ditto the closer, ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’.

Not bad. Not bad at all, in fact. Perhaps best summed up as a slightly flawed formative pop classic.

Here's 'Nothing To Fear' ...


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