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Depeche Mode - Sounds of the Universe

2009-04-28 14:45
Sounds of the Universe

It's a revealingly paranoid sketch of the moment staring at someone in a nightclub suddenly becomes a conversation in your head, the breathless keyboard overture morphing into some obsessively minimalist analogue synths while a lucky packet of sonic effects coax Martin Gore's flattened bass funk grooves into dangerously sexy spaces. 

And it gets sexier. First single "Wrong" is a stiletto electro disco confession that picks up where 2005's Playing the Angel left off by framing the vintage drum machine 'n bass textures with an anthemic stadium synth-pop swagger last heard to full effect on 1990's Violator. Yep, we're talking retro here. But who better to give today's indie-dance-rock amnesiacs a master class than the genre's original electro-pop pioneers? 

Retro pop pairing "Peace" and "Perfect" finds Gore rewiring his refound passion for analogue instrumentation into a contagiously blank industrial pop blueprint that fans of "People are People" and "Just Can't Get Enough" are guaranteed to whack onto their 'pre-clubbing' iPod playlists.

Sounds of the Universe
is no mere nostalgic remembrance of things past though. 

"Fragile Tension" and "In Sympathy" are sublime electro-pop history lessons that map the missing links between the dance pop bouyancy of Speak & Spell  (1981) and Construction Time Again (1983), the kinky alternative pop angst of Some Great Reward (1984) and Black Celebration (1986) and the arena rock overload of Violator (1990) and Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993).

And let's not forget one of the real reasons why Depeche Mode is more relevant than ever after thirty years together. Whether it's parables about the pathology of 21st century consumerism ("Hole to Feed"), a Bowie-Eno styled ambient instrumental interlude ("Spacewalker"), a country-disco-rock experiment ("Miles Away/The Truth Is") or a good-old fashioned glam-rock guitar stomp ("Corrupt") in Gore's claustrophobic torch songs ("Jezebel") and Gahan's post-rehab search for serenity prayers ("Peace") they have a lyrical yin and yang that's without peer. 

"The way you moooooo-ve has got me year-ning/The way you moooooo-ve has left me bur-ning" wails lead singer Dave Gahan in his most flamboyant falsetto on nervy synth-pop opener, "In Chains".

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