Music / Depeche Mode

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The current line-up. Left to right: Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and David Gahan.

"You just can't argue with Depeche Mode. I've tried. You just can't do it."
Sage, Radio X

Depeche Mode are a British group formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. Initially a bouncy Synth-Pop group, their songs later took on a darker, more sexual tone as they developed. Their gothic aesthetic and innovative synth work brought them to worldwide fame in 1990 with the release of Violator, which has made it onto the Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Then they had reached their creative peak with Songs Of Faith And Devotion in 1993. They've also been frequently cited as a key influence by Industrial Metal bands, including Nine Inch Nails.

The band's line-up includes vocalist Dave Gahan (1980-present), vocalist / guitarist / keyboardist Martin Gore (1980-present), who serves as the band's main songwriter, and keyboardist Andy Fletcher (1980-present). Past members include keyboardist / songwriter Vince Clarke (1980-81, later of Yazoo and Erasure) and keyboardist / arranger / drummer Alan Wilder (1982-1995).

Discography:
  • Speak & Spell (1981)
  • A Broken Frame (1982)
  • Construction Time Again (1983)
  • Some Great Reward (1984)
  • Black Celebration (1986)
  • Music for the Masses (1987)
  • 101 (1989)
  • Violator (1990)
  • Songs Of Faith And Devotion (1993)
  • Songs Of Faith And Devotion Live (1993)
  • Ultra (1997)
  • Exciter (2001)
  • Playing the Angel (2005)
  • Sounds of the Universe (2009)
  • Delta Machine (2013)
  • Spirit (2017)

"Tropes of Faith and Devotion:"

  • '80s Hair: In The '80s, the whole band, but Martin's blond "halfro" (which he still has, toned down a little) has to be seen to be believed.
    • Dave's dye job in the mid '80s is probably the second worst.
  • Adaptation Expansion: What they did to their singles from the previous albums in 1993. As their manner drastically changed on Songs Of Faith And Devotion they performed older songs in the same manner as the new ones.
  • Album Filler: People Are People is really just the titular hit single packaged with some B Sides and recycled stuff from the previous two albums. Especially bad because the single would later come out on Some Great Reward, screwing over all the American fans who had dropped the cash to buy the "album." Meanwhile, it took three attempts for the single "People Are People" to finally become a Top 40 hit in the United States, roughly a year after it was first released.
    • Although it is a nice way of collecting together non-album tracks such as "Get the Balance Right!". Also the track "Flexible," whose only U.S. album release was on Catching Up with Depeche Mode (the original U.S. equivalent of The Singles '81-'85, which omitted "People Are People" and "Everything Counts" in favour of "Flexible" and an early version of the Black Celebration track "Fly on the Windscreen").
  • Album Title Drop: Construction Time Again is from the second line in "Pipeline", and Some Great Reward comes from the end of "Lie to Me". Also Playing the Angel is a line from "The Darkest Star".
  • Alternative Dance: Trope Codifier along with New Order, and probably one of the genre's best-known and most influential artists (up there with Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Saint Etienne and Garbage.)
  • Angst A very frequent trope for them, bordering on the omnipresent.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Played for Drama on "New Dress."
  • Audience Participation Song: "Everything Counts" is their longest-standing. Dave Gahan also loves to get concert crowds to sing the choruses to the band's other songs.
  • Author Appeal: There sure are a lot of dominant women and BDSM overtones in the lyrics and videos.
  • Author Tract: "The Landscape is Changing" is Alan Wilder being an environmentalist.
  • Auto Erotica: "Behind the Wheel" is sort of about cars, but it's more about having a dominant partner. The video has a Biker Babe, ironically.
  • Blasphemous Boast: "Personal Jesus".
  • Broken Ace: Gahan and Fletch. This was most true in the early '90s when Gahan's drug problem culminated in him nearly dying of an overdose, and Fletch's continuing problems with clinical depression resulted in a full-fledged nervous breakdown. They both seem better adjusted and happier these days.
  • Butt-Monkey: Fletch.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The far the more, arguably they became the darkest on Songs Of Faith And Devotion.
  • Cool Shades: often the whole of the band.
    • Their Playing The Angel promotional photos featured them on each bandmember.
  • Cover Version: "Route 66" (first recorded by Nat "King" Cole and by MANY artists since), The Stooges' "Dirt".
  • Darker and Edgier: Their first album, written almost entirely by Vince Clarke, was full of happy, bouncy pop love songs he would continue to be known for. Fast forward four years later and the band is writing songs about bondage, corruption, and God having a sick sense of humour.
  • Dark Is Not Evil "Waiting For The Night To Fall"
  • Dark Wave: Straddling the intersection between this, New Wave, and Synth-Pop by today's standards, but they were one of the earliest bands to dabble in this genre.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Martin usually sings lead on one song per album (occasionally that song even becomes the single — see "A Question of Lust" and "Home"), but on Black Celebration he sings about half the album.
    • He also recorded "Somebody"... In the nude.
  • Declaration of Protection: "A Question of Time".
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The band's primary photographer and video director, Anton Corbijn, loves this trope. All 5 of 1987's videos were monochrome.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The band's first hit single, Just Can't Get Enough is in stark contrast with their later hits, but they always have to play it. And there's also the extremely upbeat and synth-tastic The Meaning of Love from their second album which is totally in contrast with their later dark sound.
    • The band have attempted to rectify this with the album Sounds of the Universe which features some of the same synths used on Speak & Spell and more upbeat sounds (songs like Fragile Tension really show this).
  • Everything Is an Instrument: A massive number of their videos feature the band hitting stuff with hammers in time to the drum beat.
    • Not just the videos: From "Construction Time Again" (ESPECIALLY for "Pipeline") through "Black Celebration," much of the sounds on those albums are samples of things being hit or dropped, as well as heavily manipulated voice samples.
    • "Stripped" doesn't just have the band hitting car wrecks with sledgehammers in a junkyard in time with the drums, but the chugging percussive rhythm that goes through the entire track is actually a motorcycle engine running in neutral slowed down on a sampler.
    • The beat to "Personal Jesus" was created by jumping on their instrument cases. Then there's the infamous breathing breakdown...
  • Fanservice: "Master and Servant"'s video was loaded with leather and chains.
    • YMMV if the woman in "In Your Room" who dresses up in various costumes seen in previous videos (including Dave's "I Feel You" suit) qualifies.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:Dave Gahan is sanguine, Andy Fletcher is choleric, Alan Wilder was melancholic and Martin Gore is phlegmatic.
  • Freudian Trio: In a post-1995 trio Martin Gore an be considered a superego, David Gahan - id, while Andrew Fletcher is the middleman between two extremes, an ego.
  • Green Aesop: "The Landscape is Changing".
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: "When the Body Speaks", "Somebody".
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The whole band, and many of the ladies in their music videos. Alan Wilder does look damn fine in a good bike jacket.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Fletch is mostly a Type 2. Alan might count as well.
  • I Am the Band: Invoked here, in the end mostly subverted.
    • Until 1995 this trope does not have any chance as both Martin Gore and Alan Wilder contribute to the music of the band and David Gahan is its face.
    • After 1995 with departure of Wilder now Martin Gore remains the only songwriter and neither of the two remaining bandmembers is an arragement expert. Still as David Gahan sings the bulk of the material he remains the face. However some share of the fandom might consider Martin the core of the band.
    • Totally subverted since 2005 when David Gahan assures that three songs of his authorship were put on Playing The Angel. Since then every album contains three tracks penned by him. Or four - on 2017's Spirit.
    • However David Gahan always composes his songs with regular collaborators, he does not have an exclusive credit to any of the tracks credited to him as opposed to Martin. That might imply that he is not up to writing songs on the level of Martin on his own.
  • Important Haircut: Inverted with Dave Gahan for Songs Of Faith And Devotion. The previously clean-cut frontman sported long hair and a beard to go along with the rawer guitar-oriented sound of the album. The Jesus-like appearance was also appropriate for the album's religious lyrical themes. Played completely straight when he reverted to his previous appearance after cleaning up.
  • Intercourse with You: Many of their songs.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: Zigzagged.
    • The first word of the name of the band (depeche) is seemingly pronounced in the French manner with "ch" correctly transcribed as "ʃ" (like "sh" is to be pronounced in English words).
    • However the second word is pronounced "moʊd" as it should be in the English but not in the French.
    • Moreover in "dɪˌpɛʃ" the first vowel sound ɪ is an incharacteristic rendering for the unstressed vowels in French.ˈ
  • Lesser Star: According to Fletch himself, he doesn't really do anything and is still there just because he's friends with Dave and Martin.
    • Believed to be a factor in Alan Wilder quitting the band. Wilder did the arranging, the re-mixing / arranging for live shows, the most live keyboard playing, and some backing vocals. On top of not getting the credit he should have (to casual fans, he was essentially the handsomer background keyboard player), he was being paid only slightly more (since he did write a few songs) than Fletch. To this day, Fletch still has animosity towards Wilder for something and claimed that he refused to make another album with him after the volatile Songs Of Faith And Devotion sessions. Gahan (Always a supporter) and Wilder are still friends, and Gore has acknowledged that Wilder was under appreciated, but Fletch always seems to do verbal gymnastics to avoid praising him.
    • When the band was on hiatus (feared by some to be permanently) after the Exciter Tour, Gahan, promoting his first solo album, constantly took shots at Fletch. In the past, it was in good humor, like the jokes about getting him a fax machine so he has something to do onstage, but Gahan was relentless during this period.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: The band name comes from the title of a French fashion magazine. They translated the name to "Fast Fashion," but it means something closer to "fashion report."
  • Loudness War: Playing the Angel actually maxes out in places, used more egregiously at the very start of "A Pain That I'm Used To", which is the first song of the album. Yeah. Their earlier records are much more subdued in volume.
    • Songs Of Faith And Devotion is their last safe album. Starting with Ultra they've all been mastered like this. Ultra and Exciter at least have some semblance of dynamics though.
    • Sounds of the Universe appears to have put an end to this trend. While it's definitely mastered louder than their old stuff, the dynamic range is still quite intact. Even "Wrong" has a relatively conservative mix, considering the intentionally harsh sound of the song.
  • Love Martyr: Paying attention to the lyrics to "Martyr" is like reading the trope page.
  • Made of Iron: They don't call Dave "The Cat" for nothing, as he's survived a heart attack, a suicide attempt, a tumor and clinically died for two minutes due to taking a speedball. He still performs to this day.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They come at around a 3, but they range from a 1 ("Freelove") to a 5 ("Soothe My Soul").
  • Money Song: "Everything Counts".
  • Mr. Fanservice: A shirtless Dave strutting around stage in tight black trousers certainly qualifies as this. He's jokingly referred to himself as an "overpaid stripper".
  • Murder Ballad: Left ambiguous, but "Stripped" is at the least playing off the parallels between backroad Auto Erotica and a Stalker With a Crush kidnapping someone in their trunk and taking them to a private spot in the woods.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: They're sort of industrial-dance-pop-rock-electro-goth, if we're taking their oeuvre as a whole. As of Sounds of the Universe, they're leaning more towards industrial-electro-rock.
  • Nerd Glasses: Fletch, big time. He's gone through several over the years: 1990, circa 2000, and now.
  • New Sound Album: A lot of them.
    • A Broken Frame — First album without Vince, no Alan, comparatively moody.
    • Construction Time Again — Alan comes on board, Gareth Jones recruited as engineer. Lots of samples since label head / co-producer Daniel Miller dropped $40,000 on a Synclavier and Martin saw an Einstürzende Neubauten concert. Sets the tone for the next three albums, especially Black Celebration.
    • Black Celebration — Full on Goth Rock with industrial influences.
    • Violator — Martin starts using guitars more often, the rest of the guys work in stronger dance beats, Mark "Flood" Ellis co-produces and François Kervorkian engineers. Closer to the dance-rock style of Alternative Rock that groups like New Order and Big Audio Dynamite popularised.
    • Songs Of Faith And Devotion — Straight-up Alternative Rock, with lots of guitars but enough synths, electronics and industrial rock influences to keep it distinctly Depeche Mode. This carries over onto Ultra.
    • Exciter — Mark Bell note  co-produces, giving it a mellow and experimental sound with glitchy influences.
    • Playing the Angel — Ben Hillier replaces Mark Bell; the sound is full of call backs to their early 90s era, but with the anger and harshness toned down.
    • Sounds of the Universe — See Retraux.
    • Delta Machine — The old school synths from the last album are present, but the overall sound is bluesier and reminiscent of their early '90s records with Dubstep and Noise elements.
  • New Wave Music: Depeche Mode were one of the main bands of the 80's New Wave going from the cheesiest (Speak and Spell) to the darkest (Music for the Masses) edge of New Wave in the course of that decade.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: While Depeche Mode doesn't have a bass player, Fletch does play most of the basslines with his keyboards, not to mention being the bassist in the band's earliest, pre-synth incarnations, and is the Butt-Monkey of the band, so he fits this trope.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead," which is actually a Silly Love Song.
    • "Enjoy the Silence" is a weird one: If you only know, the much played, and much compiled radio version, you would think it was a non appearing title. The original version from Violator, has the song fade out for a bit, and after a short silence, Dave sings the title, followed by a synth bell sound, and a hidden interlude track. Most re-mixes incorporate it into the main body of the song.
    • Vince Clarke dropped a shitload of these, on the first album alone ("I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead," "Ice Machine," "Shout!," "Any Second Now," and "Puppets."), but Martin Gore, in comparison, is incredibly averse to the practice. The only true non appearing song title he put out, out of eleven albums, was "Blue Dress."
  • Notable Music Videos: "Personal Jesus," among many of their videos since 1987, have been directed by artist / photographer Anton Corbijn.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: First appeared in "Master and Servant," later becoming a staple of their lyrical style.
  • Obsession Song: "It's No Good."
  • Pelvic Thrust: David Gahan likes it.
  • Precision F-Strike: On "Fail" Martin sings:
    Our souls are corrupt
    Our minds are messed up
    Our consciences bankrupt
    Oh, we're fucked
  • Protest Song: This trope is invoked in their 2017 album Spirit. The first single is named Where is the Revolution? For many it was a source of Narm.
  • Real Song Theme Tune "Angel" (More commonly known as "The Angel of Love") is used as the ending credits theme for Injustice: Gods Among Us of all things.
  • Redemption Equals Death: "Blasphemous Rumours," the story of a girl who fails a suicide attempt, then converts to Christianity, only to be hit by a car and die.
  • Redemption in the Rain: "But Not Tonight."
  • Retraux: Sounds of the Universe. Martin bought up a bunch of old analog synths on eBay, some of which had been used on the first two albums. The result pretty much sounds like Speak and Spell on PCP.
  • Shout-Out: The bassline of "Clean" from Violator was inspired by the bassline of "One of These Days" by Pink Floyd.
  • Show, Don't Tell: The message behind "Enjoy the Silence," which can pretty much be summed up as: "Actions speak louder than words."
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Alternative stations usually played "Behind the Wheel" and "Route 66" together via a remix by Nile Rodgers that combined both songs.
  • Signature Style: Many of Anton Corbijn's videos for the band feature Deliberate Monochrome, desert imagery and fast film grain.
    • One notable exception to the Corbijn's signature style is the deliberately kitschy video for "It's No Good", which looks like a 70s porno movie.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Vince and Alan tracks are usually, towards the idealism end (Vince moreso), while Martin tracks are almost always, firmly on the cynicism end.
    • It should be noted that Martin is, on the Myers-Briggs personality test, an INFP. The nickname for this group is Idealist.
  • The Smart Guy: Fletch and Alan.
  • Spiritual Successor: With the band's dark, keyboard-driven sound and deep-voiced sex symbol lead singer, Depeche Mode could be the second coming of The Doors.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Fletch is the epitome of this, though perhaps most of all, with the style of eyeglasses he wore, around the time of Violator.
  • Strawman News Media / Ripped from the Headlines: "New Dress" presents the news media, as shoving aside horrifying tragedies in favor of, falling all over Princess Diana's latest dress.
  • Surreal Music Video:
    • "Wrong."
    • "Barrel of a Gun" is pretty whacked out, too.
    • "Walking in My Shoes" gives us circus freaks and the bird lady.
    • Whatever "Hole to Feed" is supposed to be. It was directed by Eric Wareheim, after all.
  • Tenor Boy: Martin Gore especially when he was more boyish.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Dave Gahan in many concerts.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: "The Meaning of Love."
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Most of Vince's stuff on Speak and Spell.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: "New Dress" accuses the British press of invoking this, to nefarious ends.

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