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Depeche Mode - Sounds of the Universe (Cover Artwork)

Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode: Sounds of the UniverseSounds of the Universe (2009)
EMI Group

Reviewer Rating: 3


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The double-nils have been good for `80s comebacks. The Cure dropped the vastly underrated Bloodflowers and 4:13 Dream. Bruce Springsteen released more awesome albums this decade than he did during the Reagan administration (Working on a Dream is his mulligan). Morrissey's Years of Refusal might very.
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The double-nils have been good for `80s comebacks. The Cure dropped the vastly underrated Bloodflowers and 4:13 Dream. Bruce Springsteen released more awesome albums this decade than he did during the Reagan administration (Working on a Dream is his mulligan). Morrissey's Years of Refusal might very well be his best solo record. Heck, even Prince, with his gazillions of songs about fucking and/or wanting to fuck, had a flash of relevancy with Musicology and 3121. Throw in the scads of `80s revivalists making money nowadays, and it's clear that fellow `80s leftovers Depeche Mode were due for a comeback record. And while some jumped the gun in declaring 2005's Playing the Angel to be that record (c'mon, it wasn't), the truth, however subjective, is that 2009's Sounds of the Universe is the freshest Depeche į la Mode in almost 20 years.

Or 19, given that Violator came out in 1990. Since then, the Mode has been more or less artistically bankrupt, trying bad ideas that ranged from live band instrumentation (Songs of Faith and Devotion, which sucks) to giving their albums extreme titles that contrast with the boring music contained within (Ultra, Exciter, both of which blow). The band's most recent output has aimed for a back-to-basics approach. Of course, `80s artificiality is "the thing" right now for pop music, which also means that Sounds of the Universe sounds kinda modern.

Let's get the criticisms out of the way. Sounds of the Universe's beats don't experiment quite like on Some Great Reward. None of the songs touch on eroticism like "Master and Servant," although "Jezebel" gives it a go. Neither controversial nor thought-provoking, it's a ham-fisted deep cut about a sexually liberated girl who dresses somewhat revealingly. In a world of sexting and online child pornography, "Jezebel" doesn't shock or amaze. And the arrangement is boring.

But these shortcomings only matter to the diehards, and even then they'll probably just be glad to have a solid Depeche Mode record in their hands. Sounds of the Universe is cool and catchy. Tunes like "In Chains," "Come Back," and single "Wrong" have a spacey elegance to them that recalls the better moments of Music for the Masses or Violator, even if they don't supplant them.

This record is a safe bet in every sense of the phrase. It's a moderate artistic statement from the band, and it's a decent purchase for fans of new and old synth-pop. While the album doesn't need to be an hour-long, some editing on one's digital music player will cut Sounds of the Universe down to a more pleasing 45-50 minutes or so.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
strizzmatik (May 26, 2009)

This review eats a veiny one. Anyone that listens to DM and thinks SOFAD is one of their worst should stop listening to music and never ever give his opinion publically. This record is definitely DM's most consistent release since the early 90's, IMO. And Playing The Angel was most definitely their comeback record brosef - the first half of that CD was untouchable.

SilentStorms (May 26, 2009)

I'm confused. You blaze the band in 3 of 5 paragraphs but it still gets a 3/5? Confusatron.

scorpiondeathlock (May 23, 2009)

score is for "never let me down again"

saint_jake (May 22, 2009)

"I have to disagree with the Bruce Springsteen comment. Working On A Dream is by far his worst album to date."

It would appear you and the reviewer are in agreement, actually. You probably just don't know what mulligan means.

Cos (May 22, 2009)

You called it "safe bet" and a "moderate artistic statement". I'm not sure what you're getting at. If you got over it, why leave it in the review?

We can all agree that "Jezebel" sucks, but let's see the forest for the trees, and not the bear shit shall we?

Jelone (May 22, 2009)

Cos - Keep reading. You'll notice I did get over it.

DrGunn (May 22, 2009)

years of refusal moz's best solo album? insanity.

flowerfeeder (May 22, 2009)

I have to disagree with the Bruce Springsteen comment. Working On A Dream is by far his worst album to date.

Cos (May 22, 2009)

How you can complain that the beats aren't as experimental as an album the band did 25 years ago is beyond comprehension.

I'm not the biggest DM fan, but there's some really good songs with good hooks, and none of the writer's complaints seem to be at all necessary. You can't expect a band that's been going for 30 or so years to be as experimental or as controversial as they were in their first 5. Get over it. You can't expect 50 year old guys to write another "Master and Servant". Martin Gore's got kids, you know?

mcflynnthm (May 22, 2009)

Once the writer claimed that "Songs of Faith and Devotion" sucked, this review lost all credibility. It might be my second favorite DM album, behind "Black Celebration."

oldpunkerforever (May 22, 2009)

Im a huge DM fan, this really is not that good, good moments, just overall underwhelming cd. I will add Dave Gahan sounds great tho.-oldpunker-

eazyd3 (May 22, 2009)

wow what a great band. keeps the awesome reviews coming knobfuck

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