It's now one week after Depeche Mode's upcoming album 'Sounds Of The Universe' (SOTU from now onwards) was leaked. Since then I've listened to SOTU like almost 20 over times now.
I'm surprised the album sounds surprisingly fresh and upbeat. It's like an album from a new band and not from a band that has been around for 30 years. It's hands down better than 2001's lacklustre 'Exciter' and is definitely an excellent follow up to 2005's 'Playing The Angel'.
Continuing on the trend from 'Playing The Angel', this album once again see them embracing their electronic roots again. On this album, they have pushed the guitars to the background and brought the synths back to the fore. Drum machines are once again very evident.
Overall the album has a retro feel to it partly because a lot of old vintage analog synths were used. Although they are using lots of analog synths it must be clarified that they are not using them like they used to. So don't expect anything sounding like 'Speak and Spell' on this album, ok maybe the beginning of 'Perfect' does sound like 'Puppets'.
The tracks from the album:-
1. In Chains - In a recent interview Dave Gahan the lead vocalist of Depeche Mode leaked that they will open every show of their 'Tour Of The Universe' world tour with this track. The track is indeed an appropriate track for opening a show and so I couldn't agree more. The track begins with a long electronic buzz or hum that sounded like maybe that THX thingie from the theatres.
2. Hole To Feed - This album version sounds very different in terms of production from the boring version that was leaked. Its been spruced up a bit here.
3. Wrong - I didn't notice the guitar riff in the background the first time I heard the song from their Echo Awards performance. I've just noticed it. Well, not one of their finest singles but not their worst either.
4. Fragile Tension - The very first track from SOTU to be leaked. Most will be disappointed that there is very little difference between the leaked version and this album version. Perhaps, a bit more electronic sounds sprinkled here and there, that's about it.
5. Little Soul - This song starts off a trio of synthpop tracks that wraps with 'Peace'.
6. In Sympathy - One of my favorite tracks from SOTU. It begins with the riff from 1993's 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion''s 'Walking In My Shoes' but slightly speeded up.
7. Peace - Is this DM doing an Erasure? As it is very Erasure-esque. No doubt fans of pure synthpop will dig this.
8. Come Back - One of the slow songs on SOTU. Embarassingly simple lyrics. The whole song just come across as slighltly pretentious. I usually skipped this track.
9. Spacewalker - The production on this instrumental track could have been from the 'Music For The Masses' era, think Stjarna and Agent Orange. It's their best instrumental in years.
10. Perfect - If Peace sounds like an 'Erasure' song then this sounds like a Duran Duran song. It's amazing how Gahan at times sound like Simon Le Bon on this track. Was it deliberate ?
11. Miles Away / The Truth Is - My least favorite track of the album and not too surprisingly it's a track I usually skipped.
12. Jezebel - The only track helmed by Martin on this album. I found it really nice to listen to this at night.
13. Corrupt - Another track that just doesn't do anything for me. Maybe in time it will grow on me.
Overall, I rate SOTU 8/10.
I owned every one of Depeche Mode's albums (except for SOFAD live). There's no doubt that I'll be getting the official SOTU for my collection when it comes out on April 21st 2009.