The third single, "Just Can't Get Enough," was an even bigger hit, breaking the band in the U.S. where the song received ubiquitous airplay on modern rock stations like L.A.'s KROQ. An irresistible, bubbling synth line bounces in, joined by a synth bass, offset by an almost ska-like fricative on the upbeat, as Gahan sings Clarke's most enduring melody. A sunny classic.
On the strength of the three singles and a general melodic consistency, the album Speak and Spell hit No. 10 in the U.K. and charted in the U.S. Miller was suddenly a hit producer and Mute was the home of a new genre.
Then suddenly Clarke left Depeche to form Yazoo (now called Yaz) with singer Alison Moyet. The first Yazoo album, Upstairs At Eric's (as in Radcliffe) is another technopop landmark, showcasing Clarke's melodies and Moyet's dramatic, statuesque alto. Rising to No. 2 U.K. by mid-'82, Clarke's success with Yazoo seemed to indicate that he had taken Depeche Mode's future with him.
Produced by Miller, Radcliffe and Clarke, Eric's is highlighted by the brilliant synth-ballad "Only You" and two dance classics: the throbbing "Don't Go" - with Moyet wailing soul diva-style - and the shimmering, squirming "Situation." Yazoo would do one more album together, the self-produced You and Me Both, before Moyet went solo and Clarke formed Erasure with the Moyet sound-alike Andy Bell.
In spite of general assumptions as to its imminent demise, Depeche carried on with Gore taking over the writing duties and Alan Wilder replacing Clarke on synths. Despite three more hit singles, A Broken Frame feels like a place-keeping effort, with Gore feeling around for his own voice, yet not wanting to stray too far from Clarke's successful sound.
Gore found that voice on two sensational singles in '83, "Get the Balance Right" and "Everything Counts." "Balance" has a deeper, richer sound than earlier Depeche - much less rinky tinky - and a darker tone and theme: pondering one's responsibility to the world and acknowledging that all actions have consequences. This change was akin to Bruce Springsteen's move from the adolescent summer of Born To Run to the young adult autumn of Darkness On the Edge of Town.
"Everything Counts" weaves sonically within a carnivalesque setting between the queasy dark of the fun house and the cotton candy light of the carousel, while the lyrics question the ethics of materialism. Albums Construction Time Again and Some Great Reward continued the shift toward introspection and deeper, darker music. "People Are People" reached an industrial-like clanging murkiness, making the fact that it was the band’s first U.S. pop hit all the more noteworthy.