on 4 August 2005
Now seems an ideal time to take a new look at this mighty album. How does it sound thirteen years on? At the time it came at the end of a run of three classic albums (with its two predecessors Music for the Masses and Violator).
With Violator Depeche Mode had taken the familiar electronics about as far as they could go. They had also gathered their biggest world wide audience so far. SOFAD represented a complete rethink of the DM ethos. From the opening I Feel You you are aware that this represented something new, the only real precusor to this album being Personal Jesus. But SOFAD took everything further, harder, richer. There are more guitars, there is a wider musical pallette. Whilst not quite as commercial as Violator, Martin Gore's songwriting peaked on this album. What we have here is a collection of ten classics. From the blues inflected I Feel You right through to the spiritual Higher Love. The single versions of Condemnation and In Your Room were good, but the album versions are better.
I would put this just ahead of Violator as my favourite DM album. It contains the best meeting of Gore's songwriting skills and Alan Wilder's arrangements. It takes a few plays to really sink in, but time has not blunted its greatness...
on 23 December 2002
When I first heard 'I feel you' I was amazed and impressed by their change in sound, however when first hearing this album I was hugely disappointed. It seemed such a departure from the Depeche Mode albums I had grown up with. They seemed to be trying to fit in with the grunge sounds that Dave Gahan was so in love with at the time. One of the songs even sounded like a church hymn, what the hell was going on! I went back to listening to 'Music for the Masses' and stopped playing 'Songs..'.
About a year later I still found the songs playing in my head so I decided to give it another listen. The songs seemed to have grown and the sound was so developed and warm. I don't know if it was my tastes changing or just that whatever the style you can't deny a good song, and this album is full of them.
It's nearly 10 years later now and I keep going back to this album, more so than any of their other albums. I don't like having a favourite album as your tastes do change and grow and good new music is coming out all the time (it might not be obvious but it is out there!), but if I had to pick out one absolute must from my CD collection it would be this album. If you like Depeche Mode but don't have this album, then go out and get it now (the singles version of 'In your room' lacks all of the power of the album version), if you never particularly liked DM then go out and buy it anyway and give it a few listens, you might be surprised by it's warmth and deepth, not something often associated with electronic music.
This album along with Leftfield's 'Leftism' will probably remain the most played in my collection for many years to come.
on 6 October 2000
Whereas previous album 'Violator' will for many people don the crown of Mode's best album for time immemorial (and should certainly be recognised as their finest pop moment), 'Songs of Faith...' is simply staggering in sound and scope and in its departure from the dancefloor-friendliness of its predecessor. I hope that in time Depeche Mode will begin to receive the recognition they deserve, because they have certainy contributed two or three of the defining albums of the last few decades. About this album then: well, one could waffle on about the thing as a whole - it's seamless, stirring beauty that absolutely refuses to function as mere background. You can't not be moved by the momentum of these ten tracks. Taken separately, I could dissect the beauty of every individual track here, the bombastic bliss of I Feel You and Rush or the holy beauty of Judas and Condemnation. There is a stand-out track here though that is so intense it renders me still and mortified at every listen. In Your Room is about as perfect a composition that the Mode have ever put together. Gore's lyrics are so evocative, Gahan's voice spitting out the deepest and darkest fire his belly has ever mustered and Wilder's sound: that dirty, omnipotent, bassy drum that builds to the most wonderful crescendo and then wanes off into the ether. It's only a shame they didn't offer it to the single-buying public: the remixed, acousticy version robbed it of most of its impact. It's hard to believe that the same group were responsible for such teen-friendly (albeit wonderful) outings such as Just Can't Get Enough and Shake The Disease. Higher Love finishes the album with the same atmospheric swell. It's my favourite of their albums and actually complements Violator well. It's only a shame they didn't give it all up before Ultra. I used to cower when people would ask my favourite band, because they were, at the time, Depeche Mode, and everyone else knew that they came from Basildon and had survived New Romanticism and the dodgy early nineties era that spawned Stock, Aitken and Waterman and gave birth to the manufactured state of the charts today. I saw them as the Achilles heel of my musical tastes. This album (and indeed much of their stuff) is simply wonderful though and I'm now happily out of the closet and I embrace the album today with all the enthusiasm I once had as a spotty campus youth.
on 8 August 2000
I cannot fail but be moved by this album. From the deep dark recesses of Martin Gores mind this musical masterpiece offers an insight into a myriad of sexual and religious contradictions and questions. The stadium sized feel of this album provides a sound which is entirely different from anything depeche have ever done before, whilst somehow retaining the identifying characteristics of this superb band. Walking in my shoes, i feel you, mercy in you are all brilliant tracks, from nowhere condemnation appears, with daves angst ridden vocals providing an almost tangable atmosphere of pain and suffering and, well, condemnation! When you are exhausted by the emotional rollercoaster that you have experienced over the first 5 tracks, in your room vibrates from your speakers. this is the song of the album, the atmosphere created by the drums in this track is beyond words, this is the closest that i have come to having a sexual experience without a woman in the room! One caress, higher love and rush are all fantastic, and in essance, as one reviewer has already said there s not one weak track on this album. If you have the cash spare and require auditory gratification on an alltogether different plane, buy this album.
on 20 November 2007
I remember getting into Songs of Faith and Devotion after being introduced to the Mode by they much underrated album, Ultra. But listening to this album made me understand why the fans didn't like it as much, because the sound in this album is - immense.
Starting off with the dirty sexy riffs of I Feel You, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore seduce you with a soundscape of brooding bass lines and heavy guitar, complimented with synths, and gospel singing in songs like Condemnation, it almost feels like you're the audience to a satanic choir - and it's Gahan who's singing the tunes - they always say the devil's got the best songs.
But even with all this, the most impressive thing is the thinly veiled autobiographical lyrics by Gore about Gahan, about the destructive nature of addiction, replete with themes of repentance, betrayal, redemption.
In interviews it's been said that this was Depeche Mode's attempt to make a grunge album, like Nirvana's Nevermind. In truth what they achieved was so much more than just a grunge album. They made a dark, visceral, emotional album, a nightmarescape of all the things that seemed to be breaking down the band at the time, the drugs, the sex, and the falling apart of a band from within - it's all in there, if you listen closely.
on 14 February 2006
Songs for Faith and Devotion is perhaps Mode’s most experimental piece to date, with regard to how different it is to their work before and after it. This is a beautifully crafted album and well worth owning. Its fusion of dark lyrics, haunting guitar rafts and synth rock; creates an album that stands comfortably shoulder to shoulder with its electro rock contemporary, U2’s Achtung Baby. However, both albums were produced by Flood, which may contribute to why both are classics.
Songs for Faith and Devotion is a 90’s classic and a must buy!
on 9 January 2010
Violator was good but SONGS OF FAITH
AND DEVOTION is lyrically superior and
a more spiritual experience completely.
It has a whole sense of religious
overtones,redemption and confessions of
the soul wrapped in a unique expansive
use of synth,rock and orchestral sounds.
'I Feel You' launches the album into action
with a screeching tyre burning rubber on
tarmac opening followed by a thumping rock
song like Personal Jesus only better.
When I first saw the video, Martin strumming
a guitar, Dave preaching in the desert,
Fletch' doing his bit and Alan thrashing
percussion and drums, along with Lysette
Anthony flirting with the camera without
nibbling chocolate (I roared with delight).
Then comes 'Walking In My Shoes' probably
the greatest Depeche Mode song ever devised.
Opening with a growling film noir / spy
thriller piano melody it meanders along
to a haunting guitar solo by the end.
Why nobody has asked Depeche Mode to do a
James Bond theme tune is criminal at best?
'Comdemnation' is a pulpit blast from Dave
I wonder if he's venting the group's distain
at all the unfair critism and bile thrown at them
since they began.
The rest of the album is equally as good as
the early songs.
'Judas' conjures an image of Martin Gore looking
out towards mountain mist falling toward a
scottish valley as the tune of it's gaelic
synth and flutes waft throughout the song.
'In Your Room' brings an otherworldy sound
of something dark or corrupting if you dare
to venture into it's realms.
'One Caress' is similar to Black Celebration's
(Dressed In Black) unfinished business perhaps?
The whole album mimics human life.
It begins with noise and chaos, like a newborn
baby screaming for it's first breath, and then
ends with a peaceful spiritual song.
'Higher Love' ends the album with its pulsing
mood and thoughts on what lies beyond the pain
I wonder if Martin Gore wrote this album as an
ode to Dave Gahan's near death experience and
could this be as close to walking in Dave's shoes
as we're allowed to get.
on 9 April 2002
On the first listen, the average Mode fan can be forgiven for thinking that Depeche have abandoned their electronic foundations, but repeated plays reveal a different story. Songs of Faith and Devotion is a unique and powerful album. A succesful blend that includes gospel with lush orchestral arrangements. The added touch of hard techno on tracks such as Rush, gives the album added depth. The blues feel to some of the tracks is a suprising yet welcomed move forward. Producers Flood and Alan Wilder really pushed the recording techniques with this album, and the result is melodic grunge without the distortion! The entire album has an epic sound which can be hard to define in one media friendly soundbite, but Gore's songs remain as powerful as ever. Song's captured something very dark and memorable. Gahan's heartfelt vocals are so powerful on this album, it can hardly get better than this. Many of us remember how powerful these songs were live during 1993's Devotional tour, and the album catches the power of these tracks. Walking in My Shoes has become an all time Mode classic, but it's the album tracks such as One Caress and Higher Love which leave a lasting impression. An album to treasure.
on 16 May 2007
The descent into drug hell and internal fighting by members of DM is here in all its glory on public display. The tracks on this album perfectly convey what was happening to the lads from essex who after the success of Violator were catapulted into massive global recognition. The proof that money /success/drugs dont always make for a happier life were turned into some of Depeche Modes best lyrics and brooding dark sounds and proved to be the final break away from the poppy synth genre that the band were previously known for. There are one or two truely spine tingling moments on this album when put in context of their emotional and physical well-being at the time of recording and its to their credit that they didnt shy away from commiting the torment they felt at the time. SOFAD is as dark as DM would ever get and altho subsequent albums have slowly tried to claw themselves out of this darkness this is an album that stands high amongst their work and one they should be extremely proud of. Its an album i return to again and again, and one that never fails to move me.
It was quite a shock when this album was first released. The first single, "I Feel You", was a huge change from what the band had done before, and on top of this they looked radically different, none more so than Dave Gahan who had transformed himself into a long haired, bearded, tattooed rocker.
The enormous sound and loud guitars of "I Feel You" set the tone in some ways, and this is an altogether rockier Depeche Mode than before, but also far more consistent. As good as "Violator" was, its second half was a patchy affair, but this time around the quality is sustained throughout, and for a change even the album's "Martin Gore moment" ("Judas") is excellent.
Some of the credit for the excellence of this album must go to Alan Wilder. This was his last album as a member of the band, and he evidently added an awful lot to their sound, playing live drums and working on the arrangements, and to be honest they've never been anywhere as near as good as this since then, so his departure clearly took something away.
Best tracks: The enormous "I Feel You"; the epic "Walking In My Shoes" (my favourite Depeche track to date); the stunning "Condemnation" (how on earth did Dave sing so well when he was a heroin addict at the time?); "Higher Love"; "In Your Room"...
As for the additional material in this deluxe package, the documentary is superb, featuring interviews with the band and other personnel. Everyone talks candidly about the fact that this album, and its subsequent tour, almost destroyed the band. It's a gripping portrait of the band. There are also some additional tracks (the B-sides from the album's singles), and a 5.1 mix of the entire album.
Better than "Violator", and better than anything they've done before or since. Their best album, and best tour too. Simply brilliant.