Depeche Mode began as an upbeat synthpop outfit with their debut record "Speak and Spell" in 1981, which brought their first two hit singles "New Life" and "Just Can't Get Enough". Vince Clarke left after the album's release.
1982 saw their second studio album "A Broken Frame". Martin Gore was pushed into the chief songwriter position after Clarke's departure and despite Alan Wilder joining the band during that period, the group wanted to prove that they could succeed without Clarke. "See You" was the first single, and was the only real hit from the record.
Taking a drastic change in style, the band released their third album "Construction Time Again" in 1983. The band incorporated a wide variety of samples into their music, creating an almost industrial-sounding record. Alan Wilder began contributing to the band with this album. "Everything Counts" was a #1 hit in Germany that year.
The album "Some Great Reward" followed in 1984. While continuing the political themes of the previous record, it also brought more personal themes along with it. "People Are People" and "Master And Servant" were both Top 10 hits in the UK that year. The band released their first compilation album "The Singles 81-85" a year later, bringing another hit "Shake the Disease" with it.
Their next album of 1986; "Black Celebration" was overall a much darker and atmospheric effort than their previous releases. Gore's songwriting also became darker and pushed away the style of their previous work. None of the singles were large hits, but the video for "A Question Of Time" marked the band's long relationship with director Anton Corbijn. Alan Wilder released his first record for a solo project entitled Recoil that year.
"Music for the Masses", the band's 1987 record, saw yet another change in their style, using more synthesisers than samples. For the first time in their repetoir, the group hired a non-Mute Records producer for the album. It was hailed as their most accomplished album at the time of it's release. The three singles "Strangelove", "Never Let Me Down Again" and "Behind The Wheel" were well-received outside of the UK.
A large tour followed the album, and turned out to be extremely successful. It was documented in the "101" album and video of 1989. Martin Gore released his first solo record "Counterfeit EP" that year.
1990 brought along the band's most successful album to date, "Violator". Combining the style presented on the previous album with a new sound that incorporated some use of guitar, the record sent the band into international recognition. The first single, "Personal Jesus" became the biggest-selling 12" release in Warner Bros. history, and the second single "Enjoy the Silence" became not only the band's signature song, but won them the Best British Single at the 1991 BRIT Awards. The album was included on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.
The band took a break after the World Violation tour during 1991. When they reconvened in 1992, Dave Gahan brought a new influence with him from his stay in the US, incorporating a more rock-based approach, which made up their 1993 album "Songs of Faith and Devotion". Unfortunately for the group, the resulting Devotional Tour of that year and the next saw the band move further apart than ever before. The personal issues of the band members took a heavy toll on the group, resulting in Alan Wilder's departure in 1995. He continued to work on his Recoil project as well as remixes.
Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher began work on their next album that year, but found it difficult because of Dave Gahan's incapability to attend recording sessions, and only one vocal from these sessions eventually made it to the eventual record. Gahan suffered two near-fatal incidents that year and in 1996, and entered a drug rehabilitation program that year.
When he was released later in 1996, the band finally restarted work on an album. The result was 1997's "Ultra", which was a #1 success in the UK and hit #5 in the US. The two preceding singles, "Barrel of a Gun" and "It's No Good" were moderate hits. A year later the group released a follow-up compilation to their 1985 release, "[[The Singles 86>98]]", which brought a tour and a new single with it.
Taking a break during 1999, the band began the recording sessions for their next album a year later. 2001 saw the release of "Exciter". Overall, the record was a much more mellow, minimalist-sounding style, and in some senses was not very well accepted by some. "Dream On" was the most popular single from the album. The band toured for the album during 2001 and 2002.
Dave Gahan released his first solo record "Paper Monsters" in 2003, and Martin Gore released a second album "Counterfeit 2" that year as well, while Andrew Fletcher founded a record label "Toast Hawaii".
In 2004, the band compiled "Remixes 81-04", a selection of new and old remixes spanning their entire career. One of these remixes, done by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, was a remix of "Enjoy the Silence", which was released as a single to promote the album.
2005 saw the release of the band's eleventh studio album "Playing the Angel". Taking on a harsher and edgier sound than "Exciter", incorporating more analogue synths and also including, for the first time, songs written by Dave Gahan. The songs "Precious" and "Suffer Well" were successful singles. At the end of the Touring the Angel tour, the band released a best-of album "The Best of Depeche Mode, Volume One", including a new single "Martyr" in 2006.
2007 saw Gahan release his second solo album "Hourglass", as well as participating in several other ventures. In 2008 the band reconvened to record their twelfth album "Sounds of the Universe", which was released in 2009. The single "Wrong" was slightly successful in the UK and the US. The Tour of the Universe followed in 2009 and 2010.