Construction Time Again, released in 1983, is the third album by English Synth-Pop group Depeche Mode. A noticeable shift in sound from the band's bubblier first two albums, this one marks a significant turning point in the band's output. Having recruited Alan Wilder shortly after the release of A Broken Frame the previous year, the band started to explore a Darker and Edgier and more experimental direction that would first manifest on this record, gradually increasing in intensity and galvanizing itself three years later on Black Celebration, with the band only getting darker and weirder from there.
With this album, the band shifted to a prominent use of sampling, spurned on by co-producer and Mute Records head Daniel Miller acquiring a Synclavier, giving the band access to a wider array of sonic techniques not available on conventional analog synthesizers. Additionally, shortly before the release of the band's non-album single "Get the Balance Right!", songwriter Martin Gore developed an interest in finding ways to incorporate elements of industrial music into pop, influenced by an Einstürzende Neubauten concert he had attended. Additionally, a trip that Gore took to Thailand led him to incorporate more sociopolitical lyrics into the band's songs starting here, influenced by the widespread poverty he witnessed in the country.
The resulting album was generally well-received by critics— a sharp contrast to the decidedly cold reception towards A Broken Frame— who appreciated the audible maturation of the band's music and the album's ability to mix dark, brooding themes and imagery with commercially-accessible pop music. Gore himself also held the album in high regard, considering it "a brave departure" from the standard previously set by Vincent Clarke on Speak & Spell.
Construction Time Again spawned two singles: "Everything Counts" (which has become a fan favorite and a frequent revisit in live concerts) and "Love, in Itself".
- "Love, in Itself" (4:29)
- "More than a Party" (4:45)
- "Pipeline" (5:54)
- "Everything Counts" (4:20)
- "Two Minute Warning" (4:13)
- "Shame" (3:51)
- "The Landscape is Changing" (4:49)
- "Told You So" (4:26)
- "And Then..." (5:39)note
There was a time when all on my mind was tropes:
- Album Title Drop: The words "get out the crane, construction time again" at the start of "Pipeline".
- Alternative Dance: The band's first album to explore this genre, combining danceable Synth-Pop with harder-hitting industrial beats and instrumentation. The genre had been singlehandedly invented by New Order just a year prior via their single "Temptation", and Depeche Mode would end up joining their Post-Punk-influenced counterparts in codifying the genre.
- Audience Participation Song: "Everything Counts" is this in live performances, and is their longest-standing example of this trope.
- Author Tract: The album as a whole can be described as this due to its very on-the-nose lyrics of sociopolitical protest, but "The Landscape is Changing" particularly stands out, being a pro-environmentalism song penned by Alan Wilder rather than Martin Gore.
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to the bouncy love songs on Speak & Spell and A Broken Frame, Construction Time Again is a much more cynical album, with industrial-inspired beats and themes of sociopolitical protest.
- Everything Is an Instrument: An inevitability with the introduction of heavy sampling on this album; many of the instruments used are recordings of things being broken or dropped, stuff being hit with hammers, and manipulated voices.
- Green Aesop: "The Landscape is Changing", written by noted environmentalist Alan Wilder."The landscape is changing, the landscape is crying, thousands of acres of forest are dying."
- Hidden Track: "Everything Counts (Reprise)", tucked at the end of "And Then..." Mute Records CD releases sequence the track separately from "And Then..." (though isn't listed on the packaging), while the Sire Records CD keeps the two combined.
- Money Song: Played for Drama with "Everything Counts".
- New Sound Album: 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.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Love, in Itself" (variations of the phrase appear, but not the actual title).
- New Wave Music: This album marked the point when Depeche Mode started exploring the darker vestiges of the genre.
- Protest Song: The entire album is full of this, with "Everything Counts" being the most prominent example.
- Sampling: This album marked the start of the band's love affair with this technique, owing to their recent acquisition of a Synclavier.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Martin Gore sings the pre-choruses on "Shame".
- Updated Re-release: The 1986 US CD release by Sire Records adds in "Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts)", the 12" remix of "Everything Counts", as a bonus track at the end of the album. Given that the original 1983 release ended with a reprise of the same track, this is a particularly apt choice.
- War Gaming: Invoked metaphorically on "And Then..."