"As most people know, A Broken Frame is Depeche Mode's second release, the first after the departure of original member Vince Clarke (who went on to form Yaz -- Yazoo in the U.K. -- with Alison Moyet). Being the songwriter for Speak and Spell left a massive void to fill. Martin Gore took over songwriting duties for this album, and would continue to write the vast majority of Depeche Mode tunes even up to this day.
A Broken Frame is obviously the result of a band trying to redefine itself. I don't think anybody would argue it's not their best work, but in light of the fact that Depeche Mode is still around and kicking today, it's clear that DM were here to stay even in 1982.
Martin was apparently not to eager to completely shed the image that Vince Clarke had helped them to forge on Speak and Spell. This album is a bit schizophrenic. For example, songs like The Meaning of Love and See You obviously attempt to continue in the vein of their first release while tunes like Leave In Silence and Shouldn't Have Done That foreshadow the Depeche Mode we'd come to know much better on future releases like Construction Time Again and Some Great Reward.
If you're not familiar with much of Depeche Mode's music and are looking for some exposure, this probably isn't the record for you. Given how much they've changed over the past 25 years or so, it'd be hard to recommend one or two albums alone. If you're interested in their more pop-oriented releases from the '80s, you can't go wrong with Some Great Reward. For the later, darker version of the band, check out Black Celebration or Violator. For the latest generation of DM's sound, check out Ultra or Playing The Angel for a good representation of what they're all about today.
With all that said, I still am very fond of A Broken Frame. As much as I love the complex, rich, layered sound they became so famous for later, there is something simple and yet captivating about this album. I still listen to it every now and then even after all these years. As one earlier reviewer wrote, The Sun & The Rainfall is a fantastic song. That alone may be worth the price of admission."
On the upswing...
Tricia | SF Bay Area, USA | 01/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The range of reactions to "A Broken Frame" is both interesting and enlightening. Those who sniff at its "primitive technology" are failing to see the album in the context of its time. It's hardly surprising that the folks who love "Violator" and "Songs of Faith and Devotion" don't particularly care for "A Broken Frame"; Depeche Mode was a different (and, IMHO, a better) band at the time. It could certainly be said that the album is uneven, but the inventiveness of the stuff and the superior emotional content are undeniable. Gore's themes, lyrics, and melodies are brilliant, and Gahan's voice is just finding itself, becoming that uniquely dark and effective instrument of goth-industrial sound.I love the stark alienation of "Leave in Silence," "Satellite," and "Shouldn't Have Done That." The sense of longing and loss in "See You" makes the heart ache. The peppy pop of "The Meaning of Love" and "A Photograph of You" are simply fun. And "The Sun and the Rainfall" is DM at its best: simple, brooding, heartfelt, and beautiful. I always think of it as a pre-cursor to "Shake the Disease".The DM of the 80's was a different beast altogether from what it eventually became. Back then the boys weren't afraid to dig into painful emotions, however awkwardly. "A Broken Frame" was a strong building block on the way to their peak with "Some Great Reward" and "Black Celebration." From there, it's really been mostly downhill. If you love "Enjoy the Silence" but were disappointed with the rest of "Violator", check out "A Broken Frame"; you won't be disappointed."
Everyone's got to start somewhere
filterite | Dublin, Ireland | 10/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yeah this is probably not one of Depeche Mode's greatest albums. Some of the songs are a bit patchy and the lyrics are definitely ropey but it has something that some people tend to forget in albums - charm! It's thoroughly modest and they're not trying to be anything other than themselves. True, the cover of this album does gives a mysterious edge to it - and certainly for a pop band it does seem markedly different from anything else. But Monument, My Secret Garden, Leave In Silence and even Sattelite have something about them that seem oddly addictive.
It may never reach the greats but sometimes the greats are a little too pretentious and we need something that's real - that has flaws - that's human! It's those sort of things that make this album have a rare charm despite some of it's failings"
The REAL first Depeche Mode album
Philippe Landry | Louisiana | 11/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sure this album has lots of cheesy, innocent synthpop jingles. It's not their best album ever. But it's interesting to listen to in the grand scheme of all that is Depeche. It's DM's first foray into darker, more alienated minimalism. With the obvious poppy tracks aside, A Broken Frame is icy to the core with some great little gems such as "Monument", "Satellite", "Leave In Silence", "The Sun & The Rainfall" and "Shouldn't Have Done That". With Vince's departure, Martin's cynical and biting wit jumps out. The lyrical content is already pointing to more socio-political views, as well as troubled relationships. The music is really interesting in it's stark and cold simplicity. The songs squiggle, pulse, ripple and bleep along with technological and calculated precision, living up to the standards of post-punk/synthpop. This album isn't for everyone, but I think it's quite interesting on it's own ;-)"
Depeche Mode's best album hands down
Philippe Landry | 11/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't believe the luke-warm reviews this album is getting! I think this, Depeche Mode's second album, is by far their best. Put out in 1982 between Speak and Spell (1st album) and Construction Time Again (3rd), it takes the best elements of both while leaving behind the campy silliness of the first, and the boring gloominess of the 3rd. Not that there's anything wrong with DM at their campiest or gloomiest. It's just that A Broken Frame is a masterpiece of subtlety somewhere between the two."