Review: Depeche Mode – Sounds Of The Universe

For Depeche Mode’s last long player, ‘Playing The Angel’, they reclaimed their dark electronica crown. A classy affair all round, it was an excellent way to mark twenty-five years in music and show that they were still setting the standards which so many devotees have adhered to since. That was four years ago though and ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ asks whether they can raise the bar again. The answer is not quite but this is certainly no disgrace.

In fact, the only real surprise regarding this record is that it’s taken them over quarter of a century to come up with a song called ‘In Chains’; surely Martin L. Gore, the chief scribe of pain and suffering, has been desperate to use this title since he began writing music. Unfortunately a few songs here are perfectly produced but tread unmemorable cliches – namely ‘Hole To Feed’, ‘In Sympathy’ and ‘Corrupt’ whilst ‘Spacewalker’ evokes an electro theme for a Poirot mystery.

Experienced merchants of musical doom that they are though, Messrs Fletcher, Gahan and Gore hit more than they miss. There’s an attractive fragility to Gore’s vibrato for ‘Jezebel’ where he comes across as very corrupted choirboy. ‘Wrong’ is classic DM: where everything is black, aggressive and dominated by a simple but propulsive rhythm and the beautifully arranged ‘Peace’ joins the old and the new sounds together to form a glorious whole. Meanwhile, ‘Come Back’ is the most invigorating track; for once the trio sound energised and youthful rather than just menacing. Once again it proves the quality of Gahan’s own compositions.

‘Sounds Of The Universe’ never threatens to push the boundaries but then, just like the similarly aged U2, it is best to satisfy the core fan base and produce a very decent album rather than go all Scott Walker and appeal to only the haughtiest of critics. For those who’ve followed the band all this time then (and I count myself amongst them), it will provide the dark comfort they have been asking for.

Web Sites:
Depeche Mode Official Site
Depeche Mode MySpace

Further Listening:
VAST, Nine Inch Nails

2 Responses to “Review: Depeche Mode – Sounds Of The Universe”

  1. 1 Gordon Johnson November 7, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Hello Jon good to see your website running and still reviewing after all these years, as a loyal Depeche Mode fan I was left a little disappointed with this Long awaited album as I was with Playing the angel that much so I didn’t go to see them live ! I some songs are just classic Depeche such as Wrong , I have to mention “Little Soul” which is just superb Gore and Ghan at their very best however the only other song that stuck out was Peace which reminded me of Vince Clarke and Erasure. Overall I felt songs of the Universe disappointed I just didn’t like half of the Album which was the same with Playing the Angel. I will always love Depeche Mode and I felt this Album they had gone back to their roots however I just felt the last two albums have been very disappointing what’s happened ?

  1. 1 Best Albums Of 2009 « The Weblog Of Leonard’s Lair Trackback on January 1, 2010 at 8:49 pm

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