Depeche Mode's debut single, following an initial appearance on a compilation with an early version of "Photograph," was perhaps the most unassuming release the band ever did. The title track, which later reappeared on Speak and Spell, is mostly carried by the sharp, sparkling synth pop, featuring Vince Clarke's knack for instant sonic appeal and a neat mid-song instrumental break. David Gahan's vocals in contrast are somewhat forced and diffident, though not without charm, especially at the end. The flip side, the first of many nonalbum Depeche highlights, is "Ice Machine." With a brooding, mysterious feeling throughout, heightened by the slower pace and gently creepy introduction, it's just poppy enough to be a recognizable Clarke effort while still forecasting, just enough, where the band would start going later. Gahan's delivery of choruses about "the darkroom scene" and "efficiency" works better than might be thought, while the varying rhythm pulses add further intrigue.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett