Sounds of the Universe

( 10 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ned Raggett
2005's Playing the Angel proved to be one of Depeche Mode's strongest albums -- the combination of Ben Hillier's production, the emergence of David Gahan as a songwriter following his initial solo effort and a clutch of striking songs that openly embraced arena-level bombast following the much more subtle Exciter resulted in wide praise and a well-received tour. As a result -- especially given the return of Hillier, the first producer to work on two Depeche albums in a row since Flood's heyday with Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion -- Sounds of the Universe was initially suspected of being Playing the Angel redux, something the swaggering lead single "Wrong" didn't ...
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USA 2009 CD VG+/VG+ 13 tracks.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ned Raggett
2005's Playing the Angel proved to be one of Depeche Mode's strongest albums -- the combination of Ben Hillier's production, the emergence of David Gahan as a songwriter following his initial solo effort and a clutch of striking songs that openly embraced arena-level bombast following the much more subtle Exciter resulted in wide praise and a well-received tour. As a result -- especially given the return of Hillier, the first producer to work on two Depeche albums in a row since Flood's heyday with Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion -- Sounds of the Universe was initially suspected of being Playing the Angel redux, something the swaggering lead single "Wrong" didn't undercut at all. After all these years, though, Depeche can still pull out surprises, and what's quite astonishing about Sounds is how they've returned to the equipment and textures of their early-'80s work in particular while reworking it to match both Gahan and Martin Gore's current lyrical and songwriting techniques. On balance, Sounds is one of Depeche's lower-key albums, but not without explosive or dramatic moments by any means, though. "Come Back," one of Gahan's three songwriting contributions, captures a sudden sense of vast space right from its start, the deep-chugging percussion and reverberation perfectly contrasting the soft chimes on the verses, while "Peace," with an opening bassline straight out of the days of the band's pop-industrial phase, and a stellar vocal turn from Gahan, is an absolute high point. But "In Chains," the slow-building start to the disc, sets the tone best for Sounds as a whole, with a hushed keyboard introduction, Gahan's swoon-worthy vocals (showcasing some of his best falsetto work yet), Gore's compressed funk guitar blasts and, above all else, the sense of older styles and sounds -- classic drum machines, early synthesizers, a rumbling bass undercarriage -- serving new purposes. More overt nods to earlier days appear with songs such as "Fragile Tension" and "In Sympathy," both featuring keyboards and beats sounding beamed in from A Broken Frame days but also with beautiful vocals that the younger Gahan could never have so easily done and guitar textures that the younger Gore had yet to fully embrace. "Perfect," meanwhile, almost reaches back to Speak & Spell thanks to an opening keyboard line that immediately calls the song "Puppets" to mind, but again it's more of a launching point for the current band's sound rather than a simple exercise in retrospection. Gore's sole lead vocal appears towards the end of the album on the enjoyable if understated "Jezebel," but his uncanny knack for harmonizing with Gahan throughout remains intact, with stand-out performances including the understated clatter and chime of "Little Soul" and his bravura turn toward the end of "Wrong." On the whole, Sounds of the Universe is a grower, relying on a few listens to fully take effect, but when it does, it shows Depeche Mode are still able to combine pop-hook accessibility and their own take on "roots" music for an electronic age with sonic experimentation and recombination -- not bad for a band with almost three decades under its collective belt.
Entertainment Weekly - Leah Greenblatt
On Sounds of the Universe they still sound genuinely inspired, especially on tracks like the fragile ''In Sympathy'' and the hypnotic ''Peace.'' [B+]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/21/2009
  • Label: Capitol
  • EAN: 5099969676925
  • Catalog Number: 96769

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 In Chains (6:53)
  2. 2 Hole to Feed (3:59)
  3. 3 Wrong (3:13)
  4. 4 Fragile Tension (4:09)
  5. 5 Little Soul (3:31)
  6. 6 In Sympathy (4:54)
  7. 7 Peace (4:29)
  8. 8 Come Back (5:15)
  9. 9 Spacewalker (1:53)
  10. 10 Perfect (4:33)
  11. 11 Miles Away/The Truth Is (4:14)
  12. 12 Jezebel (4:41)
  13. 13 Corrupt (8:58)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Depeche Mode Primary Artist
Christian Eigner Drums
Technical Credits
David Gahan Composer
Martin Gore Composer
Stephen Marcussen Mastering, Remastering
Luke Smith Programming
Anton Corbijn Art Direction, Cover Design
Ben Hillier Producer, Audio Production
Christian Eigner Composer, Programming, drum programming
Fergus Peterkin Engineer
Luke "Lukvatine" Smith Programming
Andrew Phillpott Composer, Programming
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I'll have a piece!

    Another great album buy DM. Close to the greatness of Playing the Angel, Sounds definitely has some MEMORABLE songs on here such as In Chains, which personally I think is the best of all and Wrong, and don't forget Corrupt. Some of the other songs are really good. Sure there's a few hit and miss. There always tend to be on DM albums. My favorite DM album is still Violater with Black Celebration following closely behind.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    another excellent peice of work by Gore & Gahan

    for True fans of Depeche that realize the song structures and appreciate the use of authentic old school synths and memorable songwriting... this is a great album! Personally I like Playing the Angel the most out of the newer 2000+ albums but this is definetely a nice addition to the catalog. Martin Gore shines with his monumental songwriting once again. Dave Gahan contributed the track he wrote "Come Back" which is excellent, as well as both his solo albums if you haven't checked them yet. Sounds did take a few listens to grow on me and hear all the layers, it is a great album so pick it up and don't take someone elses narrow negative opinion if you are a fan.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    It Makes Me Sleepy

    Lots of highly tweaked blips and squeaks from hours and hours and millions of dollars spent on sound manipulation and synthesizer programming but the songs are dull dull dull. Missing is the inspired writing that made them great. Rehashed chord progressions, worn out melody phrasing, and piles of noises resurrected from their past efforts are there to remind us that it's the same group who ran out of ideas. Part of what made them great in the past was their ability to weave interesting sounds and production techniques into the songs making such ideas an indispensable part of the music. With "Sounds of the Universe" all that is gone. The fancy gritty production, knob tweaking, retro-synths, bit-crunched vocal tracks, and plucky arpeggios, serves only as pretty icing on a mediocre cake. There is no more innovation from these former genius'. There is nothing new on this CD. There is nothing memorable on this CD. Not one single track held my interest. I regret spending the 18 bucks on this and I should have known better from their previous two stinkers.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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