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

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:

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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  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
    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
    5.Playing the angel
    6.A broken frame
    7.Music for the masses
    8.Speak & spell
    9.Construction time again
    11.Delta machine
    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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