Sounds Of The Universe
REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/05/2009
Sounds Of The Universe? Are they kidding? This album title makes absolutely no sense.
If this is what Depeche Mode thinks our universe sounds like, then Armageddon must be upon us! Please don’t be fooled – this is just another lame attempt by Depeche Mode to sound relevant dressed up in more colorful package. While U2 have gotten better with each album this decade, Depeche Mode has gone in completely the opposite direction.
This has got to be the most painful album I have had to sit through in the last ten years. “Droning” and “depressing” are the two words that came to mind as each song blurred and clunked mindlessly into the next. Sounds Of The Universe is the sound of three music veterans sinking in quicksand. The music doesn’t go anywhere on any of the thirteen tracks, which also unfortunately one of the longest albums Depeche Mode has ever released. Just because these songs are supposed to appeal to miserable people who dress in black doesn’t mean they have to be such a torture to listen to. Even those Goth types will probably turn up their nose at an out-of-place song entitled “Peace.” Something tells me Depeche Mode fans have since moved on anyway. At least they won’t be in a position where they have to defend this tragic misstep of an album.
Actually, I would be curious to hear Depeche Mode defend Sounds Of The Universe. My guess is that they will keep typically mum and let the public decide for themselves on what the verdict should be. My sense is that, even though this probably isn’t the note they want to end on, they should seriously consider packing it in. If this album is the last proverbial nail in their coffin, I just hope they have the good sense enough to keep it shut. OMD knew when it was time to call it a day, though they never had the ardent fan base Depeche Mode has had. At any rate, it is the end of the decade, so it would be as good a time as any. I, for one, don’t plan on wasting my money on any more pointless DM drivel in the future.
One listen to noisy, warped and distorted cuts like “In Sympathy” or “Come Back” and you will understand why I am so disappointed by seeing this band go so “Wrong,” which is also the title of their latest single (which is accompanied by an unnecessarily disturbing and violent video clip). And then they insist on throwing in an utterly useless instrumental (“Spacewalker”) into the mix to add insult to injury. I swear all those annoying squelching noises that are heard throughout the album sound like somebody farting! And don’t get me started on how laughable Dave Gahan’s attempt at emoting on the awful ballads “Little Soul” and “Jezebel” is. The writing by Martin Gore has taken a noticeable nosedive. There’s nothing worse than clumsy lyrics and weak melodies being poorly delivered. Sounds Of The Universe is a textbook example of how sub-par music can get released and reach the unsuspecting masses without a second thought.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard an album so shockingly BAD from a group that I had previously been a serious fan of (though Peace by Eurythmics comes pretty close). The only song with any real listenability and artistic merit comes near the end of the album, on “Perfect,” which is a title that can only describe this one song, certainly not the others that come before or after it. Sorry DM, but this is your third strike, and I’m out.