My Review of SOTU
Post: #1
When I was writing for the arts section of my college newspaper, I had written a review of SOTU. Since it's getting close to the release of Delta Machine, which I will also be writing a review for (just for the sake of writing), I figure it would be cool to talk about what we like and don't like about the album to get us excited about Delta Machine! Andy So, for the hell of it, here's my SOTU review from '09.

Depeche Mode Keeps The Universe Talking
by: Allyson Yates

After a four year hiatus, Depeche Mode make their return to the music scene this year with their 12th studio album, Sounds Of The Universe. The Mode Men are one of the few bands left out of the 80’s post-punk/New Romantic movement that still makes (relevant) music in the new millennium. In a Mute/EMI Records press release it was declared that this record was “a Violator for the 21st century.” A little too much hype, perhaps, but a great record nonetheless. It could be put on the list of their best work to date.

The first track on a Depeche Mode album makes a strong statement - that they have returned to embark on the next era of their almost 30 year career (i.e.: the siren intro on "A Pain That I'm Used To" from 2005's Playing The Angel) and “In Chains” is no exception to that tradition; starting off with a bombardment of analog synthesizers that could easily be a turn-off. But lead singer Dave Gahan’s rich baritone vocal will bring you right back.

The album’s first single, “Wrong,” is an anthem for the outsiders. With its lyrical chant of life gone wrong (“I was born with the wrong sign/In the wrong house/With the wrong ascendancy…There’s something wrong with me chemically/Something wrong with me inherently…”), primary songwriter/guitarist Martin Gore has succeeded yet again with writing lyrics that would make one reach for the black goth clothes from the closet; put on the heavy black eyeliner and sing right along, and have no remorse while doing so. Not since “Barrel Of A Gun” from 1997’s Ultra have they released a dark single to announce they’re back.

This album marks the second time that Gahan has contributed songs to a Depeche Mode record (the first time being Playing The Angel in 2005). The three songs that he contributed this time around -“Hole To Feed,” “Come Back,” and “Miles Away/The Truth Is” - show that his writing is getting stronger as time goes on. There is a significant evolution from his debut solo album, 2003’s Paper Monsters.

“In Sympathy,” “Fragile Tension” and “Little Soul” are the most classic Depeche Mode-sounding tracks on the album, with their heavy use of analog synths and familiar melodies to any fan’s ears; best fit for the dance floor or for sitting around in those black clothes and matching eyeliner. You can easily fit these tracks within past records, such as Violator and Music For The Masses.

“Corrupt” closes the record with raunchy lyrics and crunching guitars, proving once again that Gahan’s voice and Gore’s words are a match made in musical heaven. After the song ends, there are about three minutes of dead-air, until a music-box version of the melody of “Wrong” is reprised to officially close the album; leaving the album on a high, open-ended note.

Depeche Mode fans always speculate over if they will ever release another record, since they only have a new album roughly every four years. With this kind of close to Sounds Of The Universe, it’ll keep the fans talking and wanting more for after their massive world tour is completed.

© Allyson Yates, 2009

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