Life at 33 1/3: …but the sleeve is a classic


Depeche Mode, A Broken Frame (Mute)

*From the vaults of Carl Meyer, an original record review written in October 1982.*

Depeche Mode used to be Vince Clarke’s band – until he packed up and left for Yazoo.  “A Broken Frame” is their first album after his departure.  And they are on much the same trip as Yazoo, all synths and drum machines.  And pop.  And emotional postcards from the tear soaked world of Teenage Romanticism.  But they don’t have a singer of Alison Moyet’s calibre to deliver the goods, so they can’t match the fiery soulfulness of Yazoo.

Depeche Mode opt for more aesthetic solutions, their arrangements are very tasteful, sometimes achieving breathtakingly beautiful results – like the melodic and oh so melancholic clarinet runs (it is a clarinet, isn’t it?) in “Satellite”.  They are also more sugar-coated and less desperate.  The tunes are laced with frisky little pop themes, easy on the ear.  But it is not enough to hold your attention the whole album through.  It seems to me that the music is a bit lackadaisical, and even worse, anonymous.

Depeche Mode have yet to find their own voice.  That doesn’t stop the album from being promising as there are songs here that qualify for a good run on the hit parade (there’s three Top 20 hits on it).  And let’s give them credit for that wonderful cover photo, must be record sleeve of the year.  Hang it on your living room wall!

Released: September 27, 1982

Produced by: Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller

(All songs written by Martin Gore)

Contents: Leave in Silence/My Secret Garden/Monument/Nothing to Fear/See You/Satellite/The Meaning of Love/A Photograph of You/Shouldn’t Have Done That/The Sun & The Rainfall