The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The Universe. The First Review Of New Album
John Doran , March 16th, 2009 11:22

John Doran reviews Depeche Mode's new album Sounds Of The Universe

Add your comment »

'In Chains'

Depeche Mode's twelfth album opens with a tone of such a high frequency that maybe some of their older fans may at first struggle to make it out. One can imagine men of a certain age, with a penchant for black 501s, black leather jackets and white vests being asked to sit in a booth and raise one finger when they thing they can discern the sound. It is joined by a burbling, clicking, analogue and insectile burr, which slowly becomes an orchestra of ancient and angry sounding synth tones. For a few disorientating seconds this sounds spookily like the Anglia TV ident from the 70s, before building into THX proportions. But this doesn't signify a "stunning return to X", or "their most uncompromising album since Y" or a "hauntological take on Z". Instead this fanfare, reminiscent of the work of the Radiophonic Workshop, is more a warning to the listener which says: "brace yourself, we have invested in a lot of vintage synthesizers, creaking drum machines and dusty sequencers, and we are not going to shy away from using them." If anything this slightly disturbing intro is misleading because it ushers in what is arguably the 29-year-old band's most mellow and mature album to date. The actual track 'In Chains' is the kind of bluesy cyber spiritual that the band made their own between 'Personal Jesus' in 1989 and 'John The Revelator' in 2005. Dave Gahan's smooth croon is set off by the feverish efflorescence of Martin Gore's guitar.

'Hole To Feed'

This is one of Dave Gahan's three contributions as a songwriter to the main album, worked on with his writing partners Christian Eigner (DM's regular drummer) and Andrew Phillpott. The construction of Playing The Angel was marred by jockeying for position between the singer and Martin Gore but this has given way to an almost Socialist division of labour. Instead of Gahan insisting on having a certain amount of space on the album before agreeing to even set foot in the studio now both parties (i.e. Gore and Gahan. Andy Fletcher doesn't write the music or play any instruments) write according to their abilities and the group as a whole receives according to its needs. This is as it should be. Gore remains the primary songwriter and Gahan is the front man and secondary song writer, while Fletch, perhaps more crucially is a facilitator. He stops the other two from killing each other and acts as a necessary intermediary for Gore. This is minimal acid blues and concerns the singer's addictive nature, and its minimalism is emphasized by the use of old equipment and a prominent, primitive rock guitar.


The first single is classic Mode with Gore casting Gahan in the role of corrupt preacher, like a character from Flannery O'Connor's southern gothic novel Wise Blood, railing against his almost apocalyptic bad luck. His slightly mad ravings elevate the scenario to the scale of black comedy: "I was born in the wrong house / with the wrong sign / in the wrong ascendency. / I took the wrong road / that led to / the wrong tendencies. / I was in the wrong place / at the wrong time / for the wrong reasons / on the wrong night / of the wrong day / on the wrong week. / I used the wrong method / with the wrong technique". Buzzing MOOGs are the ideal accompaniment to the stentorian backing vocals that admonish the singer for all his bad choices/lack of choice, like an over-zealous, slightly gothic Greek chorus.

'Fragile Tension'

This song, like 'Jezebel', harks back to 'Lillian' from Playing The Angel and appears to be a bit of an eco-ballad or an elegy to the not-yet disappeared beauty of planet earth. However the melancholia of the synth and the sentiment aren't reflected in Gore's almost raucous guitar playing.

'Little Soul'

Many of these songs are built around a pop, proto industrial skeleton like material you'd find on Some Great Reward or Black Celebration but these tunes themselves are, necessarily, much more mature in tone and content. Abrasive metallic textures underlie this gentle meditation on death and (possibly) rebirth or continuation through children. There has been some talk of retro-futurism influencing this album and it's certainly clear on this track, with Gore's surf guitar calling to mind the exotica of the 50s and 60s mixed with the electronic tones of the space race era.

'In Sympathy'

How have Depeche Mode not already recorded a song called 'In Sympathy'? Anyway, there was a time that when the band were never far from singing about teenagers and being extremely creepy ('Behind The Wheel', 'Question of Time' etc) but nowadays they seem to be presenting enthusiastic and motivating songs to various children and young relatives. This isn't a bad song by any stretch but there's something ever so slightly prissy about the arrangement of it. There's no point in having loads of really cool old synth gear and then drowning it out with big washes of simplistic guitar.


This is much better, starting a bit like OMD's excellent 'Messages' before revving up the spiritual vibes again. Rather than being Gahan singing soulfully with Gore handling angelic backing vox, this is a straight duet between the two which can be read as the self-determination of recovering alcoholics and drug users who are now clean or a song declaring the end to inter-band arguing. The song has unashamedly massive Beatles-y melodies and stadium sized positivity. The necessary grit is provided by atonal squawks of noise and electro rushes. An album highlight.

'Come Back'

Gahan's finest songwriting moment on the album and possibly to date. This is a real piece of drugged up shoegaze, with warm opiate/amniotic fuzz pop guitars that calls to mind the Jesus and Mary Chain, Ultra Vivid Scene and Spiritualized. The lyrical conceit is one that Jason Spaceman from Spiritualized would be familiar with at least - the analogy between a relationship with a lover and a drug. In the background Steiner Parker synths create random misfires of noise and tune. Sumptuous.


The Eastern synth pop style of this instrumental, made me initially think of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yellow Magic Orchestra but Martin Gore insists it makes him think of Martin Denny. So let's say that it sounds a little like YMO's cover of Denny's 'Firecracker' and an interesting piece of retro exotica and leave it at that.


Overall Ben Hillier (Doves, Blur, Elbow) has done a grand job on Sounds Of The Universe. He has grasped the overall concept of finding spirituality in science and physics – a kind of religious atheism – and how our expectations of technology have changed over the years by marshalling a combination of bleeding edge technology and anarchic vintage equipment. Trouble is in this instance that this track sounds very much like one or two other tracks elsewhere on the album. The synth chord changes on the verse put this reviewer in mind of Genesis or Peter Gabriel in the early 80s - but in a good way.


More from Martin Gore's fascination with exotica. It's easy to imagine the youthful, bleach blond, rubber dress wearing Gore of yore singing this in the manner of a wistful but asexual torch singer. But this almost cabaret number is dedicated to a young woman who (presumably) has a bracing line in the kind of clothing that wouldn't go down too well in Saudi Arabia.


This opens like a track from Violator complete with Gahan's lizard croon: "I could corrupt you/it would be easy. / Watching you suffer / girl, it would be easy." It seems that despite maturity and all, the Mode can still be slightly creepy if they want. Who knows who the 'intended victim' of the song is and what she's done to upset the Basildon boys but this is perhaps a reminder that no matter how old they get physically, we don't want them to mature too much.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

Paul D
Apr 5, 2009 7:13pm

HORRIBLE album...I can't even listen to it the first time through. Depeche Mode really faltered SEVERELY with this new release. They better hang up their jocks and retire ASAP. The only thing that will save them is if they return to their Violator and pre-Violator days with their next album, IF there will be a next album.

Reply to this Admin

clara pandy
Apr 11, 2009 4:33pm

In reply to Paul D:

my word, how terrible narrow minded.

Reply to this Admin

Deckardm berzas
Apr 13, 2009 6:29pm

Worst DM album. I can´t imagine them doing things like Peace, Perfect, Comeback...
Boring and uninspiring album, bad produced, many clips, bleeps type sounds and the same lack of melodies and atmosfear of the last decade. Ultra was their last good album.

Reply to this Admin

j m
Apr 21, 2009 9:12pm

Horrible Album?

Sry have you been listening to Exciter or what?

This Album is excellent!

Catchy songs like Wrong,Peace,Fragile Tension haven´t been around since the Ultra album(exciter was sooo BORING!)!

Some of the Synths remind me even of the Speak and Spell album(with Vince Clark)
Thing is this album grows on you the more you listen to it!
I´ll give this album 9/10!

Welcome back Depeche Mode-Easily their best album since Violator!

Reply to this Admin

Veneta Minkova
Apr 22, 2009 7:42am

The whole album is great!!!!!!!!!!!! It realy gives you the feeling of being in space and in peace. Every song is just a part of the little puzzle that is my soul. The vocals are brilliant. Depeche surprise me everytime of how original and new they can be and sound.

Reply to this Admin

Svetoslava Georgieva
May 3, 2009 8:14pm

Nice review!!!
Great new DM album. Higly recommended.
Get in the Mode!!! :)

Reply to this Admin

Sol Ist
Jul 23, 2009 3:12pm

Whether this whole album is 'great' or whether it 'sucks' big time is up to individual observations, track by track, line by line...

Personally, I'll have to agree with those being justifiably disappointed about 'Sounds of the Universe'. Starting with the very title, it is more pretentious than breathing new blood into Depeche Mode's music. As a dedicated fan of the group, maybe it is hard for me to come to terms with their more current stuff - however, while Depeche managed to push further with 'Playing the Angel', 'Sounds' is quite obviously a rushed affair of half-baked songs; no matter how much either the group of their die-hard fans insist it contains classic songs to match with their more productive past. It is simply not that kind of Depeche album.

new album sounds more like a cheap trick - while they could have made a far better album leaning on their (vintage) early days (if that ever was the purpose), Depeche decided to badly re-write themselves. The whole thing should work but no matter how hard I try, it doesn't .

It definitely is no crime they sound this 'universal' but it is no-one else's crime to detect more black holes than the universe Dave, Martin and Andy insist on giving. Sorry.

Reply to this Admin

Oct 10, 2009 11:44pm

I have been a fan of dm since there oh so long ago and downs band members departing, lead singers getting mashed and nearly dying -cutting the history lesson short and getting to the point , I wanted to hate this album - I thought noooooooo a buch of near middle aged guys trying to be hip and 'with it' getting in bed with a 'cool' producer and releasing yet another album that will yet again slip under the radar of the ever so discerning public appears though that I may have been hasty in my preconceptions of what this album was going to be like. Those that are still bigging up the violator years will probably hate 'sounds of ......' but for me it shows a dm that have moved with the times , still fresh sounding and inventive as ever.
The highlight for me ....'wrong' it reminds me soooo much of 'stan' by eminem.......dark undertones and unrelenting lyrics make this a dm classic in my eyes with a video to match. Some of you may not be able to stomach this album, especially if unlike the band, you are rooted to their at times 'dodgy' past. They have moved on ...and upwards in my opinion, as should you -get over yourself and give this album a listen or won't be the worst tenner you have spent in your electronic music listening lives I can assure you.

Reply to this Admin

Jul 21, 2010 9:28am

i cant believe thease cock and ball reviews.
have u ever listened to such a professional album?

Reply to this Admin

sheepskin boots
Aug 17, 2010 9:17am

They better hang up their jocks and retire ASAP. The only thing that will save them is if they return to their Violator and pre-Violator days with their next album, IF there will be a next album.

Reply to this Admin

Sep 29, 2010 12:25am

That is understandable that cash can make us independent. But how to act if one doesn't have cash? The only one way is to receive the home loans or student loan.

Reply to this Admin

Cheap Handbags
Dec 6, 2010 3:20am

Here we offer super quality Cheap Handbags, wallets & clutches at cheap price! Cheap Christian Dior Handbag,Cheap Coach Handbag,Cheap Dolce & Gabbana Handbag on sale!Do not hesitate to select replica brand handbags,handbags for your fashion need!

Reply to this Admin

Dec 15, 2010 2:27pm

In reply to Cheap Handbags:

It is not the actual way how it works but it is nice to see people that are really enjoying it.

Reply to this Admin

Mar 7, 2011 3:12pm

Amazing album!!!!!
Best of the year(my opinion)

There's a fragile tension...

Reply to this Admin

Apr 24, 2011 5:41pm

That is so awesome and really great to run into your site and enjoy reading your thoughts.

Reply to this Admin

Apr 28, 2011 10:27am

In reply to j m:

Agreed! Excellent album! I'm a songwriter of 25 years...this is quality.

Reply to this Admin

Jul 23, 2011 11:04am

Do you opine it is not possible to have free time completing your degree program? Everything seems to be possible. For example, you can keep away from academic papers writing if buy essay. Thence, everything is simple, as you see!

Reply to this Admin

Sep 17, 2011 5:55am

cheap designer clothes

Shoes wear well

cheap designer purses

Beautiful voice

nike shox r4

Buy more get more

cheap designer purses

Discount with you

chanel online shopping

Come and see

coach outlet

We all have a lot of

coach outlet

Final clear out

chanel online

Boys can also

louis vuitton outlet

Very cute

coach stores

louis vuitton outlet Ladies choice

gucci outlet

This village does not have this shop nioce

louis vuitton outlet

Affordable fair

lv outlet

Shoes and bags are

gucci outlet

Sexy rank

chanel outlet

Men's choice

coach outlet

With good

prada outlet

Family look at Ah

replica louis vuitton

The tide online

coach outlet handbags

Beautiful Kingdom

chanel outlet

Very nice, very beautiful

Wholesale NFL Jerseys

Discounted processing

cheap nike air max

Young people the beauty of heaven

puma shoes

Clothes look good

Reply to this Admin

Sep 23, 2011 5:38am

In reply to qe:


NFL Jerseys


NFL Caps


NFL Bikini


Arizona Cardinals Jerseys


Cheap NFL Jerseys


NFL Jewelry


NFL Travel Bags


Baltimore Ravens Jerseys

at low price

Wholesale NFL Jerseys


MLB Caps

with cheap price

Soccer Caps


Indianapolis Colts Jerseys

cheap wholesale

Chicago Bears Jerseys

wholesale high-quality

Soccer Jerseys

wholesale cheap

NCAA Jerseys

wholesale discount

Philadelphia Eagles Jerseys

wholesale authentic

San Francisco 49ers Jerseys


Dalls Cowboys Jerseys


NBA Jerseys


Washington Redskins Jerseys


New Orleans Saints Jerseys

with cheap price

NFL Jerseys


NBA Caps


NHL Caps

wholesale well-designed

NBA Swingman


Minnesota Vikings Jerseys


Cleveland Browns Jerseys

wholesale cheap

NHL Jerseys


MLB Jerseys

wholesale discount

New England Patriots Jerseys


Green Bay Packers Jerseys

at discounted price

Pro Bowl Jerseys


Tennessee Titans Jerseys


Pittsburgh Steelers Jerseys


San Diego Chargers Jerseys

Reply to this Admin

Sep 27, 2011 2:07am

Inchanel bagsline, various series that all sold extreme well, such as the chanel 2.55 and chanel coco line. The detail design which are definitely appear to be quite beautiful and exciting. All girls would love to own suchchanel handbags in hand. They all consider such handbags can make one a higher status and show elegant appearance. Come to our chanel outletonline to get one.

In Gucci handbagsline, the new versions are designed for men series which appear to be exposure, and luxury colorways that designed in order to attract much more consumers. For the gucci bags2011 winter, all bags that come along with extreme colorways for you to choose from. So to make yourself fashion enough then just come to our gucci outlet store .

Herve Leger bandagenbsp;is a well-know cloth brand in the world, all the time it is committed to shaping women’s physical beauty and showing gentle sense of female silhouettes. Wearing;Herve Leger Dressnbsp;which beautiful designed and made by high quality materials will make you look charming and sexy. The winter is on the way, so it is necessary for to to own the herve leger saleto make yourself upstate.

Remember Gucci outletspring series women show;floor that dazzling high-saturation of bright colors, and full of “Forest Queen” feel of the tassels, decorative knot it? The gucci handbags designer embodies the intrinsic taste, gucci bagsis sought after by celebrities and fashion objects.;In winter season, the gucci handbags sale would be a great topic.

For these fashion ladies and wealth women, they all like to make themselves in unique style in a share. Quality and style would be the main point of these handbags, especially for the louis vuitton bags. For so many years, the company definitely released quite a lot of louis vuitton handbags in the market, and follow the fashion trend up to now. always theseLouis Vuitton outlet that sold at high price, however you can get the discount louis vuitton handbags in our bags outlet online.

Offering its just potential purchasers within of the previous just one hundred fifty extended time, Louis Vuitton pouches coupled with components are developed with one another with enhanced concerning the repaired pursuit to the caliber.Louis Vuitton Handbagsaccessories tend to be abominable advised for ambrosial application alternating with appearing a faculty authority that’s a lot of apparently in actuality why a lot of higher profile, ?many of the fashion ladies abounding approved afterwards purses and handbags,louis vuitton wallets and sun shades. To buy the excellent bags louis vuitton outletwould be a great choice.

One way for some people to get duped into buying Gucci handbags is when they hear about and come to bargained items sales, midnight markets, and the like. You'll find there, amasingly low priced, products of all kinds, but rarely will the actual items there be the real thing. Bargains aren't bad on their own, but if you're looking for the real Gucci bags, it's best to find trusted stores. The Gucci outlet store can point you to stores in your vicinity.

Louis Vuitton outlet store as one of the most luxurious brand in the world, is famous for leather goods loved by so many enthusiasts, which brings a huge business opportunity for market. We are professional trader for wholesale Louis Vuitton handbags, aiming at filling large demands as well as leading fashion trends.

Reply to this Admin

coach outlet online
Sep 28, 2011 6:22am

I heard of coach outlet online through the advertisement when I was shopping. And now I often brow the webpage and buy Coach bags online.Designs of this season give you the unlimited cool feelings in this cool summer. The new designs of Coach products in the coach outlet enrich our daily life.Despite their age gap, coach outlet store online of Coach and Ellis have several shared interests:they both like the Midnight Riders, Jimmy Gibbs Junior and Whispering Oaks Amusement Park.

The black bag from the coach outlet online adds the new design that you may love it! Find more new arrivals that you like.Customers who shopped for this product are also eager to purchase Coach Poppy Swing Brown, which is also welcomed in our coach coach outlet store online.Once visit, you will be unable to restrain loving it. Warmly welcome all of you to the Summer Sales Promotion on coach factory outlet.

coach outlet online own a couple of line, color, or the selected theme, it should be a good choice. It may be the place where offer the bag ladies handbag, you will be able to follow a course of education or training receives for the slim project chest strap wallet.If you are going to purchase a designer handbag for every day use, what elements you will think about?coach coach outlet store online Of course, the high quality is the initial element we should note.If you do not know design can be the most fashionable this fall, consider a glance on coach factory outlet! This summer, you have a wide range of options, because there are numerous designs, you can find from.

The most incredible knack about the coach bag of coach outlet online is that it would excellently please your minds beyond your mind's eye. For example, if you want to become the Angelina Julie, you will immediately need to wear the coach handbag around your shoulder.If you want to buy quality Coach products at lower prices, visiting coach outlet online can be your best decision.No one can deny the shopping at the coach factory outlet is satisfactory. For the low prices and good quality.

The Louis Vuitton shoulder bags win a lot of grace and market share. It can be said that the Louis Vuitton is a legend in history bags at louis vuitton outlet.louis vuitton bags generally variety within the buying price of $120.00 in order to $450.00, however they perform possess little purses as well as scarfs which are below $100.00.louis vuitton uk Outlets offer famous classic brand for LV,Channel, with perfect service.So become to the VIP soon.They offer more new styles,like LV purses,LV wallets etc. And are tested by product quality monitoring center .Here you can find the latest products in different kinds of louis vuitton purse making best materials.They are leisure practical products in the new generations.louis vuitton Outlets offer famous classic brand for LV,Channel, with perfect service.So become to the VIP soon.They offer more new styles,like LV purses,LV wallets etc. And are tested by product quality monitoring center .It is so good and attractive as a result of being made by a stylish designer or more. None can say no in front of so popular and chic louis vuitton handbags.

I am so confused that I don,t even know where to buy the louis vuitton uk Handbags. Because I can prefer to chose the fashionable design, favorable price, top service .You might have seen plenty of greatest quality bags into your entire life span but when it comes to the louis vuitton bags they are remarkably efficient, versatile and carved bags beyond your imaginations.louis vuitton handbags In the event you are actually woman who do not feature much money but chase type , you can't help falling inside love .

In Cristi ? Louboutin among new fall 2011, this accounted for much of the design. christian louboutin sale They are not boring classic style, like a gem, quietly waiting for you to enjoy its elegance, its beauty.Women in addition to the new nest for nail design,christian louboutin outlet animal pattern map Eucalyptus is one of the characteristics and lace, playing hit color, including a red and black high heels to tone has been very eye-catching degree.christian louboutin shoes is a lot of stars are like the French master of the creation of luxury shoe brand, the 09 spring and summer handbags, highlighting women's elegant, yet subdued and lovely mature sexy. Xiaobian pick several, this spring and summer, so you will love it.

Reply to this Admin

louis vuitton online
Sep 28, 2011 6:23am

if your dream is to look like a million bucks for a mere several dollars, then our louis vuitton outlet store is the Jiminy Cricket of your existence.louis vuitton bags generally variety within the buying price of $120.00 in order to $450.00, however they perform possess little purses as well as scarfs which are below $100.00.Yesterday, I saw an advertisement of lady's handbags on Louis Vuitton Outlets Online. I was obsessed by the unique decorative pattern and special appearance of louis vuitton purse.

louis vuitton bags marketed properly all greater compared to earth and earn cozy praise from customers. They are made from the finest leather and fabric.The louis vuitton online items are charming and chic. They make you feel different. When you log in,you will enjoy the coupon code for saving money.louis vuitton uk Store Online Handbags can also bring great accuracy as well as practical applicability and fashionable.

The Louis Vuitton bag is from the latest release of Louis Vuitton Bags. Its crisp, scribble material, leather handle, perfectly complements the relaxed shape of this stylish pouch. All the items oflouis vuitton borse Store fit all of your essentials and more.borse Louis Vuitton offers free and fast shipping. Usually, ships between 5-8 business days. So you do not need to wait for a long time.On establishing contact with a louis vuitton outlet hire agency, a few clarifications would need to be put to rest prior to working out a deal.sito Louis Vuitton has been voted by Hour Detroit magazine readers as the Best of Detroit in their 12th annual readers'poll.

sac louis vuitton Pas Cher You don,t need to go out of your house and wander about to find the LV Bags you like.Additionally, special discounts of the goods such as Louis Vuitton Purses are offered everyday. Hurry up!Everyone believes the fact that sac louis vuitton damier can be well-known simply because of its high quality and the lovely pattern.louis vuitton sacs Full of charming, lovely and moving Louis Vuitton Poppy Op Art Dotted Bag Black is a chic new flower design. These beautiful chics will be shown on our Louis Vuitton Online.

Reply to this Admin

louis vuitton
Sep 30, 2011 6:33am

Louis Vuitton Outlet,Louis Vuitton
Online Store
,are famous for the Unique articules ,login Louis Vuitton Handbag On Sale to buy your articles, such as Monogram Multicolore,Monogram Canvas Handbags. Owing to the various styles and models, up-to-date styling,elegant appearance,full range of colors and designs,quality and quantity assured .Louis Vuitton Handbags have become the best seller in international market. Now, Login Louis Vuitton Handbag On Sale to choose your favorites. What's more,the latest commodities are renowned both at home and abroad for exquisite workmanship, skillful knitting and elegant design,famous for selected materials, novel designs, delightful colors and exquisite workmanship. So please take action Now!

Reply to this Admin

wholesale online shopping
Oct 14, 2011 1:12am

Super good post. I am so glad to introduce the website onlinetrade11 for you. They do wholesale online shopping, wholesale online trade, wholesale online shopping from China all brand goods you like. I am so sure that you will be interested with free shipping from a company. Try it.

Reply to this Admin

burberry outlet
Dec 7, 2011 5:14am

Following the competition, North Face Outlet riders did a visual inspection of Finals venue The King. Head Judge North Face Nuptse cautioned that the venue is quite icy. The riders right side has a lot more snow, and North Face Parka competitors were encouraged to choose their lines on that North Face Shoes side of the venue. Due to variable conditions, tomorrow's results will be based on one run, instead of best of two.

Reply to this Admin

susanoff lee
Dec 9, 2011 2:28am
coach factory outlet

has been in business for many years. You can log in to find more information about its products and services.

Reply to this Admin

Oct 28, 2012 7:32pm

Awesome, awesome and AWESOME!!!! Love you guys sooo much! Fab album and even more fab to see Mr Gahan looking well.

Reply to this Admin