Taking off where "Black Celebration" left, Depeche mode's "Music For The Masses" takes a step towards a simpler, easier to digest format that sees much of the instrumentation focused around its main lead rather than the layered constructs of Black Celebration. This minimal and simpler approach is subtle by design but becomes apparent as repeated listens fail to invigorate the same energy and captivity the previous record had. Its a calmer beast by design, and my tendency to compare the two may hold back my enjoyment a little, but there is no doubt that this is a solid record that at no point has felt stale or mediocre at any point.
The calmer tone of this record is soothing, the compositions and arrangements pair well with lush sounding synthesized instruments and a soft, yet punchy kit. The subtlety of the less "grabbing" leads make for great enjoyment, but not the sort that comes to the forefront of you attention and fills you with awe, like "Stripped" and "Fly On The Windscreen". Thats whats disappointed me most about this record, the hooks and leads are less ambitious, and mostly remain in the quieter comfort zone this record muddles through without having any bigger or bolder moments, with one exception, "Strangelove" which genuinely sounds like a left over from the previous album, boasting a more upbeat energy and catchy hook.
What may lack between the two records is certainly not in identity, Depeche Mode very much sound the same band, retaining their colorful sound and moody undertone. Every listen has been enjoyable but theres rarely a moment that jumps out and grabs your attention, its a subtle experience, maybe more suitable to the background while working on other tasks. The album as a whole is decent, but a few slower, moody tracks towards the end are not always what I'm in the mood for when listening to this group.
Favorite Tracks: Never Let Me Down, Strangelove