Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough

Long before LOL cats started invading the world, this one was a key point in the New Wave/synth pop history. Taken from Depeche Mode's "Speak & Spell" first LP, the title song of this 7 inch has become ubiquitous, thanks to the trademark sound of Vince Clarke, who was to leave Depeche Mode just after having composed this single (he then had a long string of hits through all the 80' as Yazoo, or Erasure, to name a few of his aliases). 
But besides the success of the song, this single from a then young and aspiring Synth Pop band had its cover done by a then young and aspiring designer : Neville Brody. 

On a pure design point of view this was quality work, but there's nothing outstanding here.
Yes, it was quite a bold move for a young band to use a cat on its cover when searching for pop star status, and it has to be put to the artistic credit of Depeche Mode (or to Brody's? Or to the Mute legendary boss Daniel Miller's ?) 
And yes, the cover is famous, but it is more probably due to the success of the song itself than to the black & white saturated image that emphasized the feline's silhouette. 

On a strictlygraphic point of view, the title and name of the band were made striking by the use of tight letters spacing : a great trick to turn a text into a visually catchy graphic object. And of course it was reinforced by the use of contrasted blocks/letter colors. These blocks also having the great advantage to "lead" visually the eye towards the back cover. Neat, even if not adventurous.
But in fact, you can argue the back cover was more interesting and "Brodiesque". Constructivist lay-out, and use of a texture that is a close shot of the front image : "Be creative with what you have!" it said, and it still is a great lesson...
The use of black strokes to define graphic territories was also classic, but clever, as much as the small indentation on top and bottom, that creates a structure which the lay-out can lean on.


The interesting point is that Brody doesn't seem to like talking about this sleeve design : he generally prefers to show the cover of the remix (the Schizo Mix). And it surely is more strongly linked to his later work : the PMT treatment of the picture, and the thematic of a bondage image that expresses social alienation. Neville Brody also aknowledges how far fetched the cover design was, knowing the song thematic and style...

Amusingly this image seems pretty similar to the photographies brought by Cabaret Voltaire for him to design the Micro-phonies LP in 1984...

The rest of the design of the remix (back cover) was a logic extension of the previous artwork, but using a child image instead of the close-up, and having the cat... much less prominent ;-)

In fact, the original cat cover certainly appears as a bit odd in Brody's body of work. But it brings a sense of diversity that is welcome, and the comparison of it with the second sleeve design is an interesting introduction to what was to define Brody's graphic territory for the next decade...

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