Thursday, April 23, 2009

Depeche Mode: Sounds of the Universe

original article in the montclarion

When it comes to bands from the '80s, it's almost impossible to forget to mention Depeche Mode.
After forming in 1980 in Basildon, Essex, England, they have become one of the most triumphant and influential bands from that era.

After close to 30 years, David Gahan, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher are still making their unique mark in music with the release of their 12th album, Sounds of the Universe.

Though Depeche Mode has always had a futuristic tone with their synthesizers and industrial clangs, Sounds of the Universe takes their darkwave roots and mixes it with outer-space-like music.

The album begins with "In Chains." The song starts with long, droned out tones that get louder and resemble a futuristic car revving up its engine. One would think this album would start out with a big bang after the climax of these notes, but it's quickly lowered to minimal drum beats when Gahan begins to sing. His echoing, reverberative voice entices ears to listen to each word he sings, making one's mind hang on to them. With Fletcher's synth chords holding the song together and Gore's melodies, they both keep with the intergalactic theme of the album. Though this song is one of the best on the album, it wasn't the right choice for an opening track.

"Wrong" is definitely the one track that stands out in this album. Having a sensual slapping beat accompanied by Gore's composition of heavy old school synthesizers, the music screams out "sexy." Gahan's voice sounds like it did in their song "I Feel You" from their 1993 album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, with his powerful shouting yet soothing voice. Though the lyrics talk about being repetitively wrong, Depeche Mode couldn't be more right with this track. No wonder this is the first single to come out; it takes elements of each album and puts them into one song perfectly.

"Come Back" has a shoegaze feel when it comes to the guitar sound in this track, which resembles legendary band My Bloody Valentine. The high reverb and distortion in the guitar creates a dream like symphony of music that is perfectly accompanied by Gahan's voice, which is higher then his usual baritone voice.

"Jezebel" is the only total disappointment when it comes to this album. Gore sings on this track, and it sounds like music one would hear in an elevator or lounge. This track doesn't fit in with the others. Sorry Martin! I usually like the songs you sing!

The deluxe box set of this album includes never-heard tracks, photo books and films, showing that Depeche Mode is all about pleasing their fans.
Though this album doesn't have the classic and catchy synth-pop sound that Depeche Mode is infamous for, it still manages to get people up to dance. It adds to their eclectic variety of music on their albums, and shows how far Depeche Mode has come. From band members leaving to Gahan's long-gone drug problem which left him dead for two minutes, it looks like nothing can stop this band from creating new innovations in music as they did years ago.

Depeche Mode's Sounds of the Universe tour already has sold out shows across Europe and the United States, showing that fans can't get enough of them even after all these years.

photo by U2005.com

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