Taken From The Music
Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The
Posted By Matthew Laidlow On April 7, 2009 @ 10:32 am
Until Sounds Of The Universe appeared, the last Depeche Mode offering was a technical
release by girl group the Saturdays. Their lower pitched sounding cover of Just Cant
Get Enough may have helped save millions of children, but it was truly awful. Still,
watching five attractive women prancing around in the video was always better than the
Recently, there has been an influx of bands that aim to capture the sound of the 80s.
Amazingly, the majority of artists who attempt to do this dramatically fail. Its
hard to capture the sound of an era when bands like Depeche Mode were limited to what
hardware they could physically use. Instead of embracing technological changes to create
music, there is always someone trying to revert back to archaic time so they can
recreate that sound.
Sounds Of The Universe is the 12th studio album to appear from the band and sees a
dramatic sound-overhaul from its predecessor Playing The Angel. With the last album
drifting away from electronics, the focus was shifted on to a more industrial guitar
sounding record. Though the trademark Depeche Mode sound still bubbled through in a
handful of tracks, it didnt live up to previous albums. Lead single Precious was the
only song that could be seen as an attempt to recapture former synth pop hits.
So whats been done then to recapture the die-hard fans and make a record that will
catch the attention of music fans who are hooked on bands that Depeche Mode influenced?
Well, theres nothing utterly wrong with what they are doing at the moment, such as
lead single Wrong. The throbbing synths twist and blend amongst Dave Gahans
emotional voice. When listening to him, it always seems that he fully examines the lyrics
to blend his vocal style accordingly. Accompanied by a video that breaks the mould of
performance miming, it is a welcome return to a director being given the opportunity to
experiment with other peoples work; just like videos from Radiohead during The Bends
era and Chris Cunninghams work with Aphex Twin.
As you can probably tell, the single is getting positive vibes here. So why not across the
media platforms where it matters? Is image really letting them down? Granted, multiple
members of Depeche Mode have fought their demons against alcohol and drugs. But so
bollocks if they cant be marketed to an audience of teenage girls wholl
worship any band who has a bit of stubble and shops in H&M. Rename the band the
Killers and youll see sales figures quite literally jump as the band name sells,
despite no-one checking to see if the finished product is a pile of cack or not.
Thankfully, this record is not a letdown, or a pile of cack. From start to finish,
its a listen that sees songwriter Martin Gore penning some fine songs. Following two
successful solo records, lead vocalist Dave Gahan also contributes to three of the
albums thirteen tracks. One of Gahans efforts Come Back - doesnt
feel out of place on the record at all. Without the information credited to him,
youd easily see this as from the usual songwriter. Not only does this show that
Gahans writing abilities are as good as his fellow band mate, but it nicely sets
himself up for a potential third solo album. If he decides to do one of course.
Theres a fragile tension thats keeping us going is the first
sentence uttered from Gahan in the track Fragile Tension. Hopefully this doesnt
refer to troubled times during the recording process, though any anger and squabbles have
resulted in an album that sounds like a band having fun and sounding like they did from
the beginning. The electronics sound like something youd have heard a decade ago, as
they swirl around before building around the trademark vocals of Dave Gahan.
Though it may only be April, this album can defiantly raise its hand as a front runner for
worst artwork of the year. Unless its a childrens drawing or reference to some
mythological time, there is nothing overly creative about it. Still, it beats the covers
of bands whilst they grin like ponces against the backdrop of a brick wall, a field, or a