Songs of Faith and Devotion

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March 26, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Unlike the music of fellow godfathers of techno New Order and the Cure, whose pop synth has become more human (even — oh my God — happy at times), Depeche Mode’s moody songs remain the drug of choice for angst-ridden middle-class teens who debate the band’s synthesizer-dripping existentialism during breaks in their SAT prep courses. Longtime stars in England, Depeche Mode didn’t move beyond cult status until 1991, thanks to the acid, grinding hit single ”Personal Jesus,” off the double-platinum album Violator. But the four-man synth band will never orchestrate a Joshua Tree-like breakthrough: They don’t really have much to say, their computer-based soundscapes are too limited, and singer David Gahan, a rather one-dimensional basso, is a weakness, not an asset. Gahan does manage to stretch a little on the live-with-orchestra ballad ”One Caress,” and you can discern some genuine drama in ”Higher Love.” But the rest of Songs of Faith and Devotion, including the rockabilly-bottomed first single, ”I Feel You,” courses along too predictably. No matter: For tortured suburban youth, this is what thinking-teen’s pop is supposed to sound like. B

Songs of Faith and Devotion

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Songs of Faith and Devotion

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