Depeche Mode, Violator

A veritable oil slick of a disc, black and sleek and smooth on the surface but with iridescent flows and transitions that really grab on to you. It's a little, uh, unrefined in parts and the first couple tracks ("World in My Eyes," "Sweetest Perfection") are thematically banal, but the melodies cover its rougher moments and set up the finer ones to come, especially "Enjoy the Silence," the ominous "Policy of Truth" and "Blue Dress," admittedly a little pervy, but featuring a lovely emotive bridge to the final track. And hey, dig the Floyd "One of These Days" callback in "Clean," and "Personal Jesus" gets points for being conceptually memorable even if the erratic beat isn't exactly a religious experience. A landmark for the twilight of new wave, this album is where they most lived up to their talent. The 2006 reissue adds four bonus tracks on the DVD companion disc, though the two remixes that follow them feel more perfunctory than innovative. (Content: Adult themes in "World in My Eyes" and "Blue Dress.")