Depeche Mode
Violator


3.0
good

Review

by sputnikmusicreviewer USER (8 Reviews)
October 31st, 2008 | 18 replies


Release Date: 1990 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Depeche Mode sound good saying bad things in nineteen-ninety

Another good name for this band would have been "New Order", since Depeche Mode's music feels like something from the dark future, but that's already taken by a similar 80s synth-pop band. Regardless, a world order vibe definitely seethes and vibrates from Depeche Mode's first album of the 90s, Violator. Depeche Mode somewhat surprisingly transcended their new wave origins to become a world-wide sensation just after the release of this album. They're arguably one of few anthemic synth-bands, based on their sonically massive hits like "Never Let Me Down Again" from 1987 and their powerful live shows (it's actually very impressive they sound good live; few electronic bands can replicate the studio spirit). Depeche Mode is also unabashedly European - perhaps to a fault. There are absolutely no influences or concepts from American rock music here - no acknowledgment of the past, or anything that comes before. The weird soundscapes, deep baritone vocals, and fascist lyrics are startlingly cold and alien - but not uncommon in new wave. Interestingly, Violator is where they make their new world pledge the warmest and most appealing it can be. Not surprisingly, it was very successful.

When I say this album feels fascist, I don't use the term lightly. Violator really does sound like elevator music for a brave new world. Forget lead singer Dave Gahan's forebodingly deep well of a voice, or the robotic, rank-and-file drum beats and synth-washes. It's plainly visible in the lyrical content. "World In My Eyes" begs the listener to view the world in a different way - but the specifics as are dangerously ambiguous. Will this be a good way to view the world or a bad one? We just don't know. "Personal Jesus" advocates the abandonment of traditional faith in favor of worshiping relationships. "Waiting for the Night" hungrily anticipates the onset of darkness. "Enjoy the Silence" is stunning on two fronts: the blatant homoeroticism and an endorsement of vocal suppression. "Words are very unnecessary/They can only do harm." Sure, words can do harm, especially when they're speaking out against authority. Again, that's the problem when one reads between the lines during Violator. It's just too ambiguous. The real troubling thing about the politics of this album is the consistency of these viewpoints. It's not odd to have one or two out-there sentiments on any album. But one after the other, sounding so good, and masked as hits? That's deviously brilliant and for that I congratulate Violator. "Policy of Truth" is the best song here because it sounds terrific: perfect production, excellent chorus, and an awesome distorted guitar finale. But lyrically something just doesn't feel right when they say things like this: "You'll see your problems multiplied/If you continually decide/To faithfully pursue/The policy of truth". Just what does that mean? I guess it's simply one of the best anti-free speech dance pop songs ever. Submission, conversion, and darkness are the prevailing themes here. By the time the album closes with the eerie confessional "Clean" (gotta love that synth-whistle), you just might be one of the masses.

My Mexican exchange student roommate and his European pals loved Depeche Mode. It's easy to see why. It's single-mindedly socialist dance music. And like any music with a message, even if it's an undemocratic one, it's solid because it gets the point across with innovative production and strong hooks. Violator got rave reviews in 1990, itself admittedly the year of a new era (George H.W. Bush referred actually to it as "the new world order" ). I guess critics loved the slightly updated production tricks and song-for-song strength, both of which are positive attributes on the album. I agree that it pulls off a mild feat now by still sounding fresh and cool today. But I don't think it's as accessible and accomplished as it has made out to be. It's above average electronic pop, with some very dark themes, if you want to see them.



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user ratings (885)
Chart.
4.4
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
fireaboveicebelow
October 31st 2008


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Enjoy the Silence" is stunning on two fronts: the blatant homoeroticism and an endorsement of vocal suppression. "Words are very unnecessary/They can only do harm." Sure, words can do harm, especially when they're speaking out against a government.
wtf? do you know what you're talking about?

bastard
November 1st 2008


3435 Comments


you focus to much on the fact that they are socialists.This Message Edited On 10.31.08

AtavanHalen
November 1st 2008


17927 Comments


Generic name, average review

taylormemer
November 1st 2008


4917 Comments


lol, "Socialist dance music."

bustyagunz
November 1st 2008


911 Comments


lame name, well-written but ultimately stupid review.

rasputin
November 1st 2008


14545 Comments


I liked the review, good job.

Captain North
November 1st 2008


6787 Comments


It was a well-written review, but I feel you're missing the point. You're not reading between the lines, you're seeing what you want to see instead of taking it as writing from someone elses point of view. Inhibiting a character, telling a story. Whatever.

Zippermouth
November 1st 2008


1305 Comments


Wow! A Mexican exchange student loved this album! It must be good! (sarcasm)

Your first paragraph is pretty bad...
you might want to go back and edit this a little. I was thinking about negging you, but thats cruel.



Spamue1G
November 1st 2008


1292 Comments


It's not a neg-worthy review, nor a pos-worthy one. Don't focus on the band's ideals so much, that doesn't really tell us much about the music.
Change your name, it's not really very funny or clever.This Message Edited On 11.01.08

sputnikmusicreviewer
November 1st 2008


13 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Haha. What is more funny and stupid than anything else is that my username attracts the same attention as my review. Before everyone's reviews got irresponsibly lost here, someone else had the same nit to pick. Get over it, maybe I couldn't think of anything better.

However, I do admit I was totally wrong about "Enjoy the Silence" being homoerotic. The lyrics really sounded like "All I ever wanted/All I ever needed/Is him in my arms" to me. It's really "here in my arms." I do apologize. (And there's nothing wrong with that if it was.)

Look I realize I've made a bold statement. But think of it this way, there are already two other reviews for this album, so mine is at least saying something different.

Thanks for the crit, and I look forward to adding more reviews!This Message Edited On 11.01.08

Epilogue
November 1st 2008


1591 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album>>>>>>>>you

Captain North
November 2nd 2008


6787 Comments


Your title on the internet is the equivalent of your clothes in real life. People WILL judge you on it. And you may argue 'fuck the norm'...however, to be a loner on the internet is incredibly more laughable than IRL.

Kaleid
November 2nd 2008


711 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

An interesting take. I think the review suffers a little from focusing too much on lyrical themes. It's also very doubtful that Martin Gore had any diabolical commie intentions when writing songs like Policy of Truth (lying can be the kindest course of action), or World In My Eyes (love and sex are great, and nothing else matters, that's all there is). The only wholly political album DM ever did was Construction Time Again back in 1983.

Still, it's pretty well written, you just needs to focus on the music a little more

sputnikmusicreviewer
November 14th 2008


13 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Captain North: Going by your analysis on the importance of a user name, I guess the reviewer named "bastard" ought to be concerned someone might actually think he is a bastard. And, applying what you said to yourself, the dull ambiguity of "Captain North" doesn't seem to be some great "fashion" statement either, to use the analogy to clothing you made.

And the fact you actually wrote that being a "loner" on the internet is comparable to being one in real life, combined with your apparent fear being alone in reality, is indicative of your age, maturity, and intellectual capacity.

Please, everyone, prove to me this site isn't run and inhabited by obnoxious children. I came here hoping for something different.

taylormemer
November 14th 2008


4917 Comments


But bastard is a bastard. Every1 noes dat.

Captain North
November 14th 2008


6787 Comments


Besides the fact that calling yourself bastard actually does show some subtle sense of humour. And I never said I was making a fashion statement. Just wearing comfy clothes.

Ahh yes, comparing being a loner in real life to being a loner on the internet makes me stupid now does it? I don't see how. It's easily comparable, alot of people live in two different lives 'real life' and the 'internet life'. It's considerably easier to make friends on the net than IRL. And being a loner on the net does imply that you'd be a loner IRL. Not saying you are, mind you. I never meant to make that implication if it was there.

And most people fear being alone. It's ignorant to say otherwise. That's why so many believe in a higher power, why people go out and actually make fucking friends, whether its IRL or on the net. Its why people get married. It's why Donnie Darko is loved by so many people.

SadAndHolyGlow
January 25th 2013


1521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Interesting political approach. I usually hate political aspects being brought into things like these, but well done.

Digging: Death From Above 1979 - You're a Woman, I'm a Machine

Log S.
August 29th 2014


38 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh man
thought the first line about saying the band could also be called "New Order" was going to be setting up for a "*"maad diiss"*" but in the end it was still just as lolworthy, pretty much (not laughin at, laughin wit)

but then that thing in the comments section about the misunderstood homoerotic lyrics
an additional lol!



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