In his recent book, Paste contributor Frank Kogan kids about a Depeche Mode fan letter stating that “the real fans are the cult following,” deftly replacing “DM” with “Jonestown.” Posterboys for Eurosynth mopeyness, the members of Depeche Mode weren’t always so dour. Coltish is more like it on 1981’s Speak & Spell, the boinging, keening synth-pop mastery of Vince Clarke evident on “Just Can’t Get Enough.”
Clarke departed soon after, the onus falling upon Martin Gore, and the more he sulked and shaded darker, the more DM’s fanbase grew. With 1987’s Music for the Masses, the title was a self-fulfilling prophecy, exploring deviant “Strangelove” while “Never Let Me Down Again” sounded cathedral-huge in its opulence. The band’s curious meld of Kraftwerk and classicism went stratospheric as it embraced rock guitars for 1990’s Violator. As pliant, elegant and perfect as any pop album of the decade, songs of devotion like “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence” still resound for millions of believers.