Sharoma A Depeche Mode - New Order comparison

A Depeche Mode - New Order comparison

This is a joking continuation of my Damned - Clash album comparison and is not to be taken seriously! Here I compare each year's respective releases from two of the '80s greatest bands. But which one was ultimately better? Read on to find out!

1981

Speak & Spell VS Movement

These two are different for so many reasons. For Depeche Mode it was a false start of sorts; a debut album of a style they were not destined to continue with. For New Order it was a transitional album; an attempt to free themselves from the shackles of Joy Division's legacy. In this they succeed occasionally. Dance-inflected numbers such as Dreams Never End and Senses are wonderful, but the rest of the album remains bathed in a dark, depresing dirge (apparently Bernard Sumner doesn't even own a copy), sounding at times like a Martin Hannett solo effort (compare the 'bird-sounding' effects at the end of Chosen Time with the opening song on 'The Return Of The Durutti Column' - probably the exact same piece of equipment). It's not without its charms, though. For 'Mode, Speak & Spell is very much a unique album in the band's canon. It's uplifting and almost twee in its sound. It's trademark Vince Clarke (almost his solo album, you may say), and although it can verge on the annoying (What's Your Name?) the album is still great fun. Different as they may be, it has to be a tie. Neither band was firing on all cylinders, and both still manage to deliver.

So that's 1/1 all.

1982

A Broken Frame VS 1981-1982 EP

Despite it almost constantly being berated as the worst Depeche Mode album (and even the band themselves thoroughly dislike it!), I really like A Broken Frame. It's their transitional album. It manages to retain enough of the simple pop charms of its predecessor while simultaneously introducing us to what would become the classic 'Mode sound (via such greats as Leave In Silence and The Sun & The Rainfall). New Order's offerings for 1982 were limited to a handful of songs, but by this stage they were already well on their way to becoming the electronic dance force of the 1980s. Again, it has to be a tie!

2/2 each.

1983

Construction Time Again VS Power, Corruption & Lies

I smell another tie. I love both these albums. Whilst most fans of both would scream "PCL!" in my ears because CTA is considered "weak", I have to disagree. Construction Time Again was for a long time my favourite 'Mode album, capturing as it does their early and later sounds perfectly. The (now) primitive clinking and clanking of the technology 1983 had to offer sounds amazing to my ears. I love its sparse industrial sounds, its simple but catchy melodies, its work-and-progress themed lyrics. The production is also superlative (listen to the drum machine rolls in the extremes of the left and right channels during Love, In Itself to get an idea of what I mean); in fact, since it contains the crowd favourite Everything Counts I can't understand why anyone would bash this album. It's wonderful. But then so is Power, Corruption & Lies. Although I personally prefer the former, PCL is a very important album in New Order history. It represents sonically the beginning of their own legacy - not Joy Division's, theirs. Finally they were a force on their own, and PCL contains perhaps their finest moment in the form of Age Of Consent. It has to be another tie!

3/3.

1984-5

Some Great Reward VS Low-life

By this point it starts to become obvious that Depeche Mode were slightly more prolific than New Order. It seems the latter tended to get caught up in redoing their own songs in increasingly pointless dub form, whereas Depeche Mode continued to stride forward. SGR came out a year before Low-life, and whereas Low-life is certainly an excellent album, it has to lose out for two reasons: one, it took longer to appear and didn't seem that different in style from PCL, and two: Some Great Reward is simply a better album. The production, song-writing, lyrics, themes all represent a step forward for 'Mode. Despite Construction Time being excellent, Some Great Reward is simply better.

4/3 to Depeche Mode.

1986

Black Celebration VS Brotherhood

Depeche Mode continue to lead over New Order. Black Celebration is a further evolution for the band, whereas Brotherhood sees New Order with their drive wheels stuck in the mud, unsure whether to take the road to electronic dance bliss or guitar-based rock. Brotherhood is a haphazard affair, a mish-mash of styles with rather plain production. Black Celebration on the other hand contains many of the Mode's finest moments from the '80s. This is another 'Mode victory.

5/3 to the 'Mode.

1987

Music For The Masses VS Substance

New Order once again seem stuck in the past. Substance is without doubt a wonderful collection - perhaps even the best compilation of all time? However, it's still a compilation. It's not a work of progress and form an album should be. It's a customised selection of a band's strongest moments, discarding the weak to make the whole package seem more appealing. Ultimately, it can't be victorious over Music For The Masses because it reaches back all the way to 1981 for material and contains only two really new tracks. Wonderful as they are, True Faith and 1963 can't stand up to the onslaught of Music For The Masses. Depeche Mode once again continued to go forward and not merely tread water biding their time as New Order seemed to be doing. It seems impossible these days with a dearth of truly great music being released that a band could keep on releasing such bone fide classics. Never Let Me Down, The Things You Said, Strangelove, Behind The Wheel, Nothing... truly amazing, and it wins them yet another point over the Mancunians.

6/3 to DM.

1989-90

Violator VS Technique

Clash of the Titans or what? What more can be said on these two superb albums? A tie, no question about it. Finally New Order are moving forward again!

7/4 to Depeche'.

1993

Songs Of Faith And Devotion VS Republic

After bashing them relentlessly in the mid '80s I am going to come to New Order's defence when it comes to their 1993 album. Despite what anyone else says, I really like it. But then, I really like SoFaD-- Walking In My Shoes and Higher Love have to rank up there with the very best Depeche Mode songs. However, despite it taking four years to appear, New Order still delivered a good old dance record with Republic. It has some hidden gems. Special is beautiful, and Young Offender is infectiously good stuff. This is another tie.

8/5 to the Basildon boys.

The '90s

What's going on?

Both bands nearly disintegrated during the mid '90s, so I think I'll end the comparison here. Depeche Mode continued to sound much the same with a couple of okay albums before the dawn of the millennium, whilst New Order waited until 2001 to realise they wanted to make a middle-of-the-road rock record. I guess Depeche Mode were more prolific, and progressed futher than New Order through the '80s and early '90s, so they win the dubious distinction of victory in my flawed comparison.

8/5 to Depeche Mode.