What is the best Depeche Mode album of all-time?

What is the best Depeche Mode album of all-time?

Welcome to this new art­icle series. Too often we indulge ourselves in nos­tal­gic­ally trans­figured memor­ies. Our brains tend to for­get bad memor­ies rather than good ones. That's why many people believe that everything was bet­ter in the past? Was that really it? I do not think so and all the stat­ist­ics speak against it.

In order to stay as object­ive as pos­sible with reviews, I decided to use our estab­lished Track by Track review sys­tem. This is fair and optim­ally suited to com­par­is­ons. Otherwise, as a big Depeche Mode fan, I would give each album a full 5‑star rat­ing. However, that is a purely sub­ject­ive opin­ion, because I think not every track on the albums is equally good.

A kind of discography review

So to find out which is the best Depeche Mode album, I did the work and rated every single album track by track. I sum­mar­ized the res­ult in a rank­ing and would like to present this to you here. At the end of the art­icle, the val­ues are again clearly arranged, shown chro­no­lo­gic­ally in a curve graph.

The best Depeche Mode album charts

Depeche Mode - Speak And Spell

14. Speak & Spell

Release: 1981
Overall Rating: 3.41 ★★★☆☆
Great tracks: New Life, Puppets, Dreaming Of Me, Photographic, Tora! Tora! Tora!
Weak tracks: Big Muff

For a debut album a great found­a­tion for a build­ing. Nevertheless, the major­ity sounds very naive and mediocre.

Depeche Mode - A Broken Frame

13. A Broken Frame

Release: 1982
Overall Rating: 3.7 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Leave In Silence, The Sun & The Rainfall, My Secret Garden, See You
Weak tracks: Nothing To Fear

The second album is more ser­i­ous and gloomy. But it also comes with more extreme in the indi­vidu­al track rat­ings. Here, the rat­ing of each song is either very high or very low.

Depeche Mode - Exciter

12. Exciter

Release: 2001
Overall Rating: 3.73 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: The Dead Of Night, Dream On, Shine, The Sweetest Condition, When The Body Speaks, Freelove, I Feel Loved, I Am You
Weak tracks: Lovetheme, Easy Tiger

I am totally sur­prised by the res­ult. I love this album, but the two instru­ment­als and some mediocre tracks are pulling down the over­all rating.

Depeche Mode - Construction Time Again

11. Construction Time Again

Release: 1983
Overall Rating: 3.78 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Love In Itself, Everything Counts, Two Minute Warning, Shame, And Then …
Weak tracks: (None)

'Construction Time Again' is the first album in the list with no real weak tracks. All in all, Depeche Mode presents 10 songs that were far ahead of their time and still sound also mod­ern today.

Depeche Mode - Music For The Masses

10. Music For The Masses

Release: 1987
Overall Rating: 3.85 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Never Let Me Down Again, The Things You Said, Strange Love, Behind The Wheel, Nothing
Weak tracks: Pimpf

The album 'Music For The Masses' lives up to its name. Because for me it is indeed the most radio-friendly Depeche Mode album of all time. All tracks except the Instrumental 'Pimpf' get 4 stars from me.

Depeche Mode - Black Celebration

9. Black Celebration

Release: 1986
Overall Rating: 3.86 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Fly On The Windscreen, New Dress, Black Celebration, A Question Of Lust, A Question Of Time, Stripped, But Not Tonight
Weak tracks: (None)

I know that many die-hard Depeche Mode fans will hate me for this unpop­u­lar decision/rating. But apart from the nos­tal­gic trans­fig­ur­a­tion, the album is not free from blem­ish. There are extremely great songs on this work, but also a lot of mediocrity. Sorry!

Depeche Mode - Delta Machine

8. Delta Machine

Release: 2013
Overall Rating: 3.94 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Angel, Heaven, Soft Touch/Raw Nerve, Should Be Higher, Soothe My Soul, Alone, Secret To The End, Broken, Welcome To My World
Weak tracks: (None)

'Delta Machine' is a fant­ast­ic album. The amount of songs on the album is respons­ible for a rat­ing below 4 stars. Five songs on the album got the highest rat­ing from me. I love this album! Read the full review of the album now.

Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The Universe

7. Sounds Of The Universe

Release: 2009
Overall Rating: 4 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: In Chains, Wrong, Hole To Feed, Fragile Tension, Peace, Perfect, Ghost, Come Back
Weak tracks: Spacewalker, Esque

A phe­nom­en­al and extremely cre­at­ive album. Depeche Mode finally dare some­thing and walk on new paths, but stay true to their own style. Namely, to cre­ate a dis­tinct­ive, dark Synthpop. We have rewar­ded 'Sounds Of The Universe' in one of our first reviews with an over­all score of fab­ulous 4 stars. Read the full review of the album now.

Depeche Mode - Some Great Reward

6. Some Great Reward

Release: 1984
Overall Rating: 4.05 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: People Are People, Blasphemous Rumors, Something To Do, Lie To Me, Somebody
Weak tracks: (None)

The album 'Some Great Reward' con­tains only 9 songs, but they are all almost flaw­less. With 'People Are People' Depeche Mode made their inter­na­tion­al break­through, the mel­an­choly at the peak with 'Blasphemous Rumors' and 'Master And Servant' was pro­vok­ing in that time and for a long time shaped a sin­ful image for the band.

Depeche Mode - Playing The Angel

5. Playing The Angel

Release: 2005
Overall Rating: 4.08 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: A Pain That I Used To, John The Revelator, Suffer Well, The Sinner In Me, Precious, Lilian
Weak tracks: Introspectre

With 6 times a full 5‑star song rat­ing, 'Playing The Angel' is one of my favour­ite Depeche Mode albums. It is one of the most fast-paced and melod­ic albums of their career. Already at first listen­ing, I came dir­ectly into the groove and every Depeche Mode fan knows that this is not always easy.

Depeche Mode - Songs Of Faith And Devotion

4. Songs Of Faith And Devotion

Release: 1993
Overall Rating: 4.1 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Walking In My Shoes, In Your Room, Rush, I Feel You, Mercy In You, Higher Love
Weak tracks: (None)

Every Depeche Mode fan knows the story behind the pro­duc­tion of this album. It's one of the most dif­fi­cult and sad­dest record­ings in the band's his­tory leav­ing a lot of scorched earth behind. Then the revolt in the fan com­munity, why Dave Gahan now has long hair. For many fans, the band has died and made the hair­style respons­ible for the sup­posedly poor qual­ity of the songs. Something I nev­er understood.

And at the end of the long SOFAD tour, a shock­ing mes­sage that some fans still have to deal with and left no heal­ing scars. Alan Wilder leaves the band. Personally, I thank the band for this won­der­ful album, which still brings tears to my eyes but is so beau­ti­ful in itself.

Depeche Mode - Ultra

3. Ultra

Release: 1997
Overall Rating: 4.18 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Barrel Of A Gun, Home, It's No Good, Useless, Sister Of Night, Insight
Weak tracks: Uselink, Jazz Thieves

'Ultra' is uncom­prom­ising, brute in sound and the darkest Depeche Mode album of all time. For me until today my per­son­al favour­ite album of the band. But also the story behind the album is rather tra­gic. After Dave Gahan had had a near-death exper­i­ence a year earli­er due to a heroin/cocaine over­dose, the future around Depeche Mode was uncer­tain. Everything seemed to break apart.

In a later inter­view with The Guardian, Dave Gahan says, "When I died, there was only dark­ness. In the two minutes my heart stopped, this humung­ous voice inside of me went: 'This is wrong.' Like I don't get to choose when this is over. It scared the shit out of me.". The album 'Ultra' is also part of the art­icle '20 Synth Pop mile­stones and col­lec­tion must-haves'.

Depeche Mode - Spirit

2. Spirit

Release: 2017
Overall Rating: 4.33 ★★★★☆
Great tracks: Going Backwards, Where's The Revolution, Scum, Poison Heart, So Much Love
Weak tracks: (None)

With the four­teenth album, 'Spirit' Depeche Mode present them­selves after a long time polit­ic­ally. And there is not only lyr­ic­al to hear out. Also ton­ally col­ours the uncom­fort­able polit­ic­al mood on the sound of the band. Dark and unpleas­ant, 'Spirit' by Depeche Mode does not deliv­er an easy listen­ing pop album.

I cel­eb­rate this album every time I hear it. That's exactly what I love the band for. To put your­self in danger again and again in which you try some­thing new and renounced learned habits. After more than 35 years of suc­cess, the guys from England are still close to the times. Read the full review of the album now.

Depeche Mode - Violator

1. Violator

Release: 1990
Overall Rating: 4.5 ★★★★★
Great tracks: World In My Eyes, Halo, Clean, Sweetest Perfection, Personal Jesus, Enjoy The Silence, Policy Of Truth
Weak tracks: (None)

The second res­ult which sur­prised me very much. From the feel­ing, I would nev­er have rated the album as high in the rat­ing. On the album is also in prin­ciple a hit after anoth­er. And with a num­ber of only 9 songs, the chance of a high rat­ing is of course obvi­ous. Even though the album 'Violator' is not one of my per­son­al favour­ites, the indi­vidu­al songs are very good.

All Depeche Mode albums in a chart overview

Chart by Visualizer

What's your opinion?

  • Which Depeche Mode album do you like at most?
  • Share your albums rank­ing with our visitors.
  • Write us your per­son­al story about your favour­ite album by Depeche Mode?

Please use the com­ment sec­tion below.

Bonus – Electrozombies Depeche Mode tribute compilations

To hon­our the band, we have released two trib­ute com­pil­a­tion in 2017. If you might have missed them, go and check them out now:

Angel (A Tribute To Depeche Mode)">Ultra > Angel (A Tribute To Depeche Mode)
Ultra > Angel (A Tribute To Depeche Mode)
Universe > Spirit (A Tribute To Depeche Mode)
Universe > Spirit (A Tribute To Depeche Mode)

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Founder
  1. This one is easy really and here is my list:

    1 – 6. Anything with Alan Wilder
    7 – with Vincent Clarke
    8 – infin­ity. Anything without Alan Wilder

    DM died without Alan. Dave admit­ted how he misses Alan’s input and has nev­er been able to replace him. Alan brought the group to a reli­gious divine level.

  2. Loved Depeche from the first time I saw them in 82,all their albums are great in there own right. The first six albums are a diary of my youth, and Dave is one of the greatest front­men of all time. I've seen Depeche 30something time's and nev­er fail live to the point that each time I've seen them ive struggled to listen to their albums for a couple of months at least as for me their is at its greatest LIVE.Long live the Mode.

  3. Thanks for your list! 

    14–11 (in order):
    Delta Machine, Sounds Of The Universe,
    Speak And Spell, A Broken Frame

    10–6 (not in order):
    Construction Time Again, Playing The Angel, Exciter,
    Songs Of Faith And Devotion, Spirit

    Top 5 (not in order):
    Ultra, Violator, Music For The Masses, Black Celebration,
    Some Great Reward

  4. Wonderful art­icle, thank you.
    I am a Depeche Mode fan 35 years strong and loved the know­ledge that accom­pan­ied each pick.. I also love the respect for some of the later ( or lost recent ) albums.
    I want to bring up SOFAD. It received huge crit­ic­al acclaim and I think the poor recep­tion, at first, was more European, spe­cific­ally English. It is one of the most pro­foundly deep and spir­itu­al albums out there whilst keep­ing that DM edge. It is vastly regarded by musi­cians and musi­cian fans alike as their finest record, and with reas­on. It’s a mas­ter piece. But it’s not the only one;)) Therefore my tops stand at
    10. Exciter
    9. Spirit
    8. Delta Machine
    7. Some Great Reward
    6. Playing the Angel
    5. Music for the Masses
    4. Ultra
    3. Black Celebration
    2.Violator
    1. Songs of Faith and Devotion

    Minute pref­er­ences as these are inter­change­able for many reasons.

    Fucking Depeche Mode.… on a plan­et of
    their own 😃

  5. 1.SOFAD
    .
    .
    large gap
    .
    .
    2.Some great reward
    3.Black celebration
    4.Ultra
    5.Playing the angel
    6.A broken frame
    7.Music for the masses
    8.Speak & spell
    9.Construction time again
    10.Violator
    11.Delta machine
    12.Exciter
    13.Spirit
    .
    .
    large gap
    .
    .
    14.Sounds of the uni­verse (just Wrong, Peace, Oh well and to some degree Ghost save it from com­plete rub­bish.) Surprisingly, for example Corrupt sounds much bet­ter as a demo than final record. So par­tial cul­prit might be also the producer.

  6. Some Great Reward is my abso­lute favor­ite. I can listen to that album from start to fin­ish over and over. Violator and Black Celebration are tied for second. (It depends on the mood I'm in) Songs of Faith and Devotion, Music For The Masses, and Construction Time Again would fol­low next. For the "After Alan" peri­od, Ultra is my favor­ite with Playing The Angel next, then Sounds of the Universe, then Exciter. I do think Sprit is a phe­nom­en­al album, I just haven't been listen­ing to it as long as the oth­ers, hence my tend­ency to favor the earli­er albums. Speak & Spell is the album I listen to the least of the earli­er peri­od and Delta Machine of the "AA" era. Surprisingly I do enjoy the raw somber of A Broken Frame which would fall above these two. They are still going strong and mak­ing qual­ity music. They are undeni­ably deserving and over­due for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  7. I was a bit late in being a huge fan. When Playing the Angel came out that was the album that really made me real­ize how great they are . That’s sent me back going going through all of the oth­er albums I had missed, So with that here’s my list .
    1. Ultra I can’t say enough great things about this album it hits so hard right away and goes so deep as it goes on . Perfect !
    2. Playing the Angel : total masterpiece
    3. Violator
    4. Music for the Masses
    5. Exciter
    6. Black Celebration
    7. Songs of faith and devotion
    8. Construction time again
    9 .Sounds of the universe
    10. Delta machine
    There’s really no wrong order as long as Ultra is first ?

  8. Such a great idea! I would have expec­ted Violator at #1 (natch) and Songs of Faith and Devotion at #2, then Music for the Masses at #3. But those are my picks! Off of Spirit, Cover Me is the strongest track on the album. Thanks for giv­ing anoth­er fiercely loy­al long­time Depeche Mode fan a remind­er to go back and play some of these albums again!

  9. I'm glad Construction time again is giv­en a decent rat­ing my favor­ite early DM album and yes finally someone who thinks Delta Machine is one of their best!

  10. I'm a 20 years old guy who lit­er­ally lives with Depeche Mode music. I well awared that everyth­nig I'll say is sub­ject­ive, but here it is. 

    First, I agree about the last places in the count­down. The group was not mature yet and they did just for the fun of it. What tickles me a bit is Music For the Masses place­ment. Yes the album has few ordin­ary song, but the feel of it is so spe­cial. Songs like Agent Orange and Pimpf adds some­thing dark and the feel­ing of unsevur­ity while listen­ing. Plus, the album is a ref­er­ence I think for any­one who wants to try out.
    The same thing is applied for Black Celebration. The name says it all, the album was dark­er and change sig­ni­fic­antly the «sound» of the band. In an inter­view back then, Alan was telling that the band was con­stantly work­ing on the album and had to stop to finally deliv­er the fin­ished product. Black cel­eb­ra­tion is at least in the top 7 or 6
    In the same logic, yes Detla Machine was good, but its place deserve in the 8th or 9th and below.
    Sounds of the uni­verse is also very spe­cial. it was less catchy than Playing the Angel and adds more place for weird sounds. It was a little hom­mage to the 80s and the res­ult was great. I wished that the B‑side song «Ghost» was in the standart album because it's maybe one of their best song since the 2000s, no doubt.
    Now, it the hard­est part. Some great reward is mixed in my opin­ion. First, we have to point out the rel­ev­ance of the album. it made the band fam­ous in the U.S and a name around the world. it was the dawn of their later suc­cess. the strong songs are, yes, extremely catchy and recog­niz­able. But also songs like Doesn't Matter, stor­ies Of Old and If You Want are just ok, noth­ing more. Also the record is a bit too short. Its place shouldn't be high­er than the 8th place

    Now i totally agree for Playing the Angel, by far the best album since Ultra (since the 2000s. The rythm is fast and every­one can enjoyed it eas­ily. The Darkest Star is prob­ably the most spe­cial songs in the album and the per­fect way to ended it. In the oth­er hand, Spirit is aslo very good, and exceded my expect­a­tions. But over­all, its place­ment is a bit too high.… can't over acheived albums like SOFAD and Ultra, two mon­sters in syn­thpop music 

    Finally Violator is obvi­ously th best, no arguing needed. so here what my top 14 looks like
    14. Broken Frame
    13. Speak and Spell
    12. Exciter
    11. Construction time Again
    10. Delta Machine
    9. Some great reward
    8. Sounds of the universe
    7. Music For the Masses
    6. Spirit
    5. Black celebration
    4. Playin the Angel
    3. Ultra
    2. Songs of Faith and devotion
    1. Violator

    thanks, Depeche mode is the best band, change my mind !

    1. Thank you for your detailed ana­lys­is and opin­ion. I enjoyed read­ing your point of view. Special thanks for shar­ing your favour­ites list.

      It was an exper­i­ment for us to see how the album would score on a track by track review. Here counts the sum of the indi­vidu­al songs and not the com­plete work.

  11. I haven't heard all of Depeche's albums, but– my favor­ite is def­in­itely "Violator". But— I still love the first LP (yes– I bought the vinyl way back then).

  12. You could almost reverse this order (and then swap Exciter and Violator) for me… One for dis­cus­sion, cer­tainly. See me after class. :-)

  13. Serious busi­ness, and then i´m not that dead ser­i­ous, I liked the band that played songs you could dance to, an who laughed a lot. Your no 6 is my main meal, Construction time and Speak& spell, are foil­lowed by, A broken frame, and Music for the masses. I hope dm will return to enjoy­ful music you can dance to, I might be a dm fan once again,but for now, the old days were simply the best!

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