One Random Single a Day #92: “It Means a Lot to Me” (1998) by Perfidious Words

I’ve got a lot to catch up with, so I’ll just get on with this review. In the wake of Depeche Mode‘s international success, which ensured that shadowy, moody synthpop has a profitable market, many soundalikes soon came out of the dark to grab a piece of the pie. Of course, the 90s also saw a rise in the bleak, ragged industrial rock genre – with bands like Ministry and Skinny Puppy leading the pack – as well as the immense popularity of grunge rock, which definitely allowed for this more gloomier, grittier sound to have an audience. Perfidious Words is an unusually-named German band who formed in 1996, and while there’s very little other biographical information I could pull about the group itself, I’ll be hard-pressed to find a more obvious Depeche Mode imitator than this one. Their debut album Hydrogen Skies contains all the trademarks of the group’s synth-driven melodies across smoky melodies, cynical lyricism, and deep, dismal production. Even more blatantly, the lead singer’s voice across numerous albums sound practically identical to Dave Gahan’s distinct baritone. Finally, their next two albums were titled Spreading Silence and Breaking the Silence, respectively – I don’t think the proximity to the title of Depeche Mode’s most successful single was any coincidence!

Anyway, I guess I should stop taking cheap shots at this band, since they’re actually kind of good. “It Means a Lot to Me” is their second single from their debut album. Strung across the brooding synthesizers and thumping bassline, the lead performer emits lines about memories of a lost love. The lyrics lean on the nihilistic (“We’re talking, no one’s listening”), although a lot of it is pretty clumsily strung together, as if the group were intending to simply upkeep the gothic atmosphere regardless of how much sense it actually makes. It tends to fall apart around the second verse: “Elaborated words you said to me / Confessing everything but faith / It’s nearly hopelessness”. English is most likely not their first language, so I’ll put the blame on that. Still, the dark synthpop atmosphere of the song’s production is just strong enough to carry the track along, flaws and all. I love the recurring audial motif of what sounds vaguely like a fire alarm – it introduces the track, then is brought in again during the instrumental bridge after the second chorus, presumably to highlight the hopelessness of the words that came before it.

The synths in general are just pretty darn cool and probably the most listenable parts of this track. I’d very much be interested in an instrumental version of this record more than the studio recording as it stands now. I’ve got nothing against the voice of this performer – he’s actually quite good! Yet when a band like this is so obviously trying to remind me of a more successful, dignified band, I can’t help but feel that I’d rather be listening to that band instead – especially when I’m already well aware that their songs tend to have better lyrics than this one.

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