Depeche Mode

It's Called a Heart

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The band's weakest single of the '80s, "It's Called a Heart" is Depeche Mode-by-numbers in many ways. While David Gahan sounds great and Alan Wilder's arrangement is good, it's not fantastic, and Martin Gore's song itself is somewhat indifferent. Compared to the emotional intensity of the immediately preceding "Shake the Disease," "It's Called a Heart" is just there -- energy without real memorability. Its "extended" remix is actually an improvement; it's far more fun to listen to and reflects the group's increasing unpredictability in terms of what they would do with their own mixes. Much more promising all around is the flip, "Fly on the Windscreen." Later surfacing in slightly redone form on Black Celebration, it's astonishingly bleak and nihilistic even for Depeche, starting with the line "Death is everywhere" and not really lightening up after that. The punching, relentless beats easily help predict where Trent Reznor got more than a few ideas later on in life, while the doom-laden piano notes, stuttered breathing samples, and Gahan's own performance, just wracked enough, make for a vicious but weirdly beautiful song throughout. As an equivalent to something like the Cure's "One Hundred Years," it's quite something and then some. The "extended" mix is fairly pedestrian, the usual extension for extension's sake, but the "death" mix veers away from that cul de sac very well. The opening samples of things like "the Holy Ghost" and "the blood of Jesus" suits the emerging Depeche conflation of sex, death, and religion to a "T," while the increased volume and intensity of the percussion and darker, compressed mixing makes for a fine effort.

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