Part of the appeal of Depeche Mode has always been the tension between the dysfunctional, often bitter worldview of their lyrics and a flair for melodic synthesized hooks. The first single from the album, 'Wrong', opens with a disturbing refrain of "wrong" that leads into an ominous and pulsating synthesized rhythm, escalating the brooding intensity apparent in the lyrics. "There's something wrong with me chemically / Something wrong with me inherently / The wrong mix in the wrong genes / I reached the wrong ends by the wrong means" Gahan laments - the repetition of wrong throughout the song becomes an almost frenzied and desperate chant. Opening track 'In Chains' captures the techno-spirituality of previous songs such as Personal Jesus, and 'John the Revelator'. 'Fragile Tension' is exactly that, as ethereal electronic sounds and synthesized buzzes attempt to suppress a brooding distorted guitar, while Gahan softly sings "There's a strange obsession / That's drawing us nearer / We don't understand it / It never gets clearer".
It is this contrast between melodic light and the relentless lyrical darkness that makes up the classic Depeche Mode sound. Yet if doom and gloom was the extent of the band's range, they would have been consigned to adolescent obscurity long ago. However, the songs, layered with subtle electronic inventiveness, never allow the band to sink completely into despair. Make no mistake, Sounds Of The Universe sounds like a Depeche Mode album, but with the band in such form it's a fact we should be very happy about.
Hole To Feed
Miles Away / The Truth Is