When thinking about bands with exaggeratedly depressing lyrics, most people jump straight to The Smiths or Joy Division, forgetting all about the dark lording that's been going on in Depeche Mode for the last few decades. Which is particularly absurd given the fact that vocalist Dave Gahan has a singing style reminiscent of a rainy weekend in the North of England. In honor of the fact that these legends are performing at the Shoreline Amphitheater this Thursday, Sept. 26 -- and to get you in the mood -- here are Depeche Mode's most memorably depressing songs.
The chorus to "Blasphemous Rumours" is the type of thing you could have a good side-step to on an '80s disco dancefloor. And Gahan is wearing a belly top in the video. But this is a song about how God is a twisted asshole who's permanently laughing at us all and our miserable little lives. Proof of this is offered via tales of suicidal teenage girls who fail at the task of killing themselves and happy-go-lucky ones who get hit by cars and have to be taken off life support. Perky stuff.
In 1996, Dave Gahan overdosed and died for two minutes. Years later, he described his "screaming soul" looking down on his lifeless body as paramedics tried to save him. This, along with the threat of prison time for heroin and cocaine possession, scared him into sobriety. In "Comatose", the poor lamb describes the general lifelessness that comes with drug abuse: "You've got me dreaming, slipping in and sliding out... Life has no meaning." Heroin = not that fun, kids.
"Fly on the Windscreen"
As opening lines go, "Death is everywhere" really sets a solid tone. Having made a firm mark on the bleakness scale from the get-go, the Mode don't miss a beat here: "There are flies on the windscreen... reminding us we could be torn apart, tonight... There are lambs for the slaughter, waiting to die, and I can sense the hours slipping by." We can't help but wonder if anyone in Depeche Mode ever gets invited to dinner parties.
"A Pain That I'm Used to"
Because sometimes, life is such an endless source of misery and hurt that being an inconsolable mess is standard practice, and hoping for a familiar source of pain -- rather than a brand new one -- is the best things are going to get. This frame of mind is not assisted by being surrounded by meanies: "There's a hole in your soul like an animal with no conscience, repentance, oh no." Oh, the infinite woe.
"I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead"
The sheer memory of the synths and dance beats involved in early Depeche Mode (*cough* "Just Can't Get Enough" *cough*) is enough to depress most of the band's later fans, but "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead" is possibly the saddest moment of all. Not because of the bleak title -- mostly because this thing was an off-key exercise in not knowing who the hell you are as a band. And the inherent bleakness of that is all-consuming.