29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Another slow burner,
This review is from: Sounds Of The Universe (Audio CD)
Sounds of The Universe is an album that will reward repeated listening, as all Mode records do.
Produced by Ben Hillier, the album's overall sound will be comfortable for those who enjoyed "Playing the Angel" and less so for the rock fans who came on board with "Songs of Faith and Devotion". It is more open, detailed, and less compressed than "Playing The Angel" , and from that point of view, SOTU is a better record than its predecessor.
Lead single "Wrong" is the closest we get to the original 80's blueprint - a never ending litany of woe over a sleazy mid tempo synth fest. It's an act of song-writing bravery to pile so much repetition into a lyric, but it works.
The manifesto is set though, by the opening track "In Chains" a slowly evolving soundscape fades in from the sort of bleepy experiments so beloved of the 70's electro pioneers, before Gahan's ever improving voice slides effortlessly onto the top of the mix, backed by yet another "never before heard" take on what a guitar can sound like... a trick the Mode have continually reworked since Personal Jesus redefined them back in the early 90's.
Like all three previous studio albums, one could argue that SOTU is too long, and that the brief atmospheric interlude "Spacewalker" adds little, but over the course of 13 tracks, this album delivers for fans, although it may struggle to win new ones.
Highlights for me are "In Chains", "Wrong" "Fragile Tension" "In Sympathy" "Come Back", (possibly the stand out, but a track few other reviewers have mentioned) and "Corrupt"
Martin Gore is a supremely clever songwriter - but not always a subtle one. Some of the lyrics, as ever, are obvious and a little gauche. Long term fans accepted this years ago, (after 1984's "People are People", to be exact) and it won't change anytime soon. Similarly, the themes are well established - Love, sex, emotional alienation and existential angst; all served up with lashings of sleaze and BDSM imagery, are Gore's stock in trade.
Gahan's contribution, seemingly set now as 3 tracks per album, sits well alongside Gore's work, and this is testament in itself. Of his songs, "The Truth Is" is my favourite.
This record won't grab you by your lapels and make you love it. There is no revelatory moment such as "Personal Jesus", or "In Your Room", and this might account for the lack lustre reviews it seems to be getting. Let it seep and strain it's way in though, and you'll most likely agree that it's a worthwhile addition to the DM canon. Perhaps not their best work, but absolutely not their worst - this is a good record, and if you're a fan, especially if you enjoyed "Playing the Angel" , you're unlikely to be disappointed.