Sounds of the Universe by Depeche Mode

depeche mode: sounds of the universe

depeche mode: sounds of the universe

Oh my goodness. Depeche Mode turning to lounge room singers?

The new album, Sounds of the Universe (Universal/Mute), hits its lowest point with Jezebel, with Martin Gore on vocals. A dreary tune, it features some amazing ’70s organ effects that should have relegated this song to the discard pile.

The English electronica champions seem to have overlooked their recent successes with heavier singles such as Suffer Well and A Pain That I’m Used To to wallow in their ’80s glory.

Plenty of attention has been paid to studio production, not enough to grabbing the listener’s attention as the album cruises along on a bed of synthetic beats.

Fortunately, Dave Gahan is in superb voice, managing to infuse some emotion into relatively emotionless, but cleverly layered, arrangements. Check out In Chains, which opens the account on this, the group’s twelfth studio album.

Single Wrong (check out the funky, Saw-like reverse driving clip below!) is not a fair indicator of the frequently pedestrian fare on offer, although the superb closing song, Corrupt, ensures the album finishes on a high with trademark DM synth groove and heavier bass.

Gahan showed solid writing chops with Suffer Well, on the band’s previous album, 2005’s Playing the Angel, and contributes three co-written tunes here: Hole to Feed, Come Back and Miles Away/The Truth Is. Hole to Feed is the pick, one of the more distinctive tunes on the album thanks to its swaggering percussion, although Miles Away offers a catchy chorus.

Each song rewards independent listening with its individual touches _ fuzz guitar on Fragile Tension, for instance _ but few stand out from the crowd.

And surely it’s past time to be dangling a few twee bars of musical noodling minutes after the last song has ended, just to stretch out the album’s duration.

One of the Sunday-Mail’s funkiest reporters, Sally Browne, chatted with Dave Gahan and reports a visit to Australia as part of their Tour of the Universe (which wouldn’t be much of a ‘universe’ without an Aussie leg, would it?). Fingers crossed!

Wrong by Depeche Mode

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