Top critical review
1984's breakthrough album.
on 8 February 2003
This is the album where Depeche Mode really advanced, Daniel Miller & co refining the sound of previous album Construction Time Again (which had shown a Neubauten/Test Dept influence & had seen the Mode take up sampling). The album opens with the same sinister noise that recurs on the final track, a crashing life support system prior to a pulsing techno-beat- punishing synthetic rhythms & metallic noises blend with Martin Gore's bizarre lyrics ("You've Got Your Leather Boots On"?). 1985 saw the Metal-mix of this song, for the Shake the Disease single, one that shows an influence on Missy Elliot's Get Ur Freak On & Massive Attack's Special Cases.
Lie to Me is the glum second track, a classic pop song from Gore that fuses love with the backdrop of work- "So Lie to Me/Like they do in in the factory". The influence of Vince Clarke's early Mode tracks Ice Machine & Shout are clear. Single People are People is up next, another series of powerful metallic rhythms but probably one of the weakest lyrics Gore penned- not quite as bad as Human League's Lebanon or Culture Club's War Song, but getting there.
Gore takes lead vocals for It Doesn't Matter, which moves towards ambient territory but is not as succesful as it's sequel on 1986's Black Celebration would be. Stories of Old has more patchy lyrics, but the arrangement is fine- you can't hide a good pop song it seems! Somebody was a double-a-side with Blasphemous Rumours- Gore takes lead vocals again on this piano ballad with sinister lyrics & bizarre noises towards the end. A big favourite with fans, it is a definite highlight.
Top S&M Top-10 hit Master & Servant is up next, it's a lot like life you know. Alan Wilder offers up If You Want, which is quite nice musically but as poor as the worst lyrics here from Gore- Wilder wouldn't contribute any more songs in the future. Final track is Blasphemous Rumours, a downbeat industrial grope in the darkness that suggests Gore may have overloaded on Bergman films or Camus novels.
Some Great Reward is a fairly good album, though its best tracks recur on the Singles Box Set & 101- so not a vital purchase- unlike every Mode album from Black Celebration to Songs of Faith & Devotion.