Actually, I already reviewed this CD but I don't think I gave it the credit it truly deserves. Since first buying (and immediately reviewing) this single, I have been able to gather a more comprehensive understanding of DM and exactly where they're coming from. "Everything Counts" and "Work Hard" are not just "good pipe-clanging fun". These two songs, in a brief set of musical genius, embody an entire "era" of Depeche Mode's career. This era, starting with 'A Broken Frame', through 'Construction Time Again', and noticeably dying down after 'Some Great Reward', can basically be defined as DM's period of growing cynicism in our culture's seemingly beneficial idealistic values. Behind all those big words, the point that DM was trying to make with this single (and album as a whole) is that society is out to get us - maybe we shouldn't just accept everything we're told to believe as absolute fact.
"Work Hard" is an oversimplified view of one of Western culture's most prominent basic values. That is, "you've got to work hard if you want anything at all." In a way it's a satirical look at our society's idealism. Stay with me here... They say you can achieve anything if you work hard. 'Be all you can be!' that's the only way to get ahead in life, right? Yet we work and work and still we seem to accomplish nothing, so what's the deal? The poor are still poor... and so on. It seems those higher on the spectrum (elites?) take great pains to instill false hopes in us, the naive and unsuspecting proletariat, pawns of the world. No, I'm not over-analyzing this!! The song itself is quite dark. It has a sense of foreboding lurking throughout. Random clangs and blows of the horn are scattered within the song, quite symbolic actually, suggesting workers slaving away at a construction site. ...not without DM's signature sound. I thought the harpsichord-like-synth instrumental melody piece in the middle added a nice neo-gothic touch. Especially amusing is the strategically placed sound of a branch snapping after the line "Nothing comes easy but a broken back!" "Everything Counts" has the same basic theme, but with a slightly different topic. It's more a criticism of Capitalism, pointing out such negative aspects as self-serving individualism, greed and disrespect for humanity as a whole. From a musical standpoint, this song is a lot more up-beat. It's very catchy and sounds very British-pop.
Before you buy this cd, though, beware that it has a distinctly early British birth-of-the-synthesizer sound to it. It's no doubt an acquired taste. If I played this cd to any of my highschool peers, they'd laugh at it and say it reminded them of early TETRIS or something. For that reason I subtracted a star. While it is true, this is not exactly a purchase for the casual listener, I do highly recommend the single. It's message and presentation are brilliant. It shows that Depeche Mode possess insight well beyond their years. If you are a Depeche collector this is absolutely a vital addition as it encompasses a whole period of Depeche Mode-ism in a single couplet of songs! (By the way, there really are 4 songs on the single - remixes of each.) If you've actually made it to the bottom of my review you must think I really have something to say. I'm surprised you're not completely disgusted with me by now for writing such a drawn out, completely pretentious sounding review! well, maybe I am a little... anyway, just to avoid any anti-climactic feelings, here's one for the die-hard's, "To pull it all down and start again - from the top to the bottom and then...I'll have faith or, I prefer to think that things couldn't turn out worse."