DEPECHE MODE’s SOTU – THE GREAT COMEBACK

by Viviana on May 7, 2009

in Music

I’ve read tons of disappointment so far about Sounds of the Universe on the Internet.

Two questions raise in my head:

1. am I such a sucker for Depeche Mode that I can’t see (in fact cannot hear) how bad this album is?

2. what is it that makes people hate Depeche Mode albums and then declare that they love them best or vice versa although…when they first listened…etc?

Well, I think I sort of found the answers to both my questions. I am not a sucker for their music. I hated Ultra and I still do. I hated the new DM look and sound when they released Songs of Faith and Devotion. I hated Exciter when I first heard it. I hated Playing the Angel when I first heard it. Well, guess what? I still don’t like Ultra, I still don’t like half of the songs on Songs of Faith and Devotion, but I utterly love Exciter and most of the songs on Playing the Angel.

I think that Depeche Mode is one of those bands whose music simply makes you FEEL. And THINK. And, as we Romanians say “Romanians are all experts in football and politics”, I can’t help but think that Depeche Mode immediately make you make comments. Depeche Mode is the band that creates dissensions and strong opinions. Is this what music usually does? WRONG! Have you ever read so many I LOVE and I HATE statements about any other band in the world? No. And this is RIGHT! Depeche Mode, with or without Alan Wilder (God, aren’t we all weeping, but what the heck, get a grip!) are an INTELLIGENT band. I cannot find a better word to define the feeling one gets after reading the reviews about their albums. And hey! How many bands have released 12 studio albums to receive the most contradictory feedback about them? Well, I personally know a few real Depeche Mode fans who love DIFFERENT albums and still have quarrels on this topic every time they meet. Little do they (in fact all of us, the Moders) know about the trick Depeche Mode (I would mainly blame Martin for that, but…let’s give them all some credit) are playing on us. They are playing with our hearts and minds as they play with theirs. And this is why we love this or that album. Because when they create music they create listening to what they feel in that very moment and they stay true to themselves. Is it hate? So be it. Put it in a song. Is it that I separated from my wife and I hope kids won’t hate me? Put it in a song. Etc…

I think Martin roars with laughter reading (if he ever bothers) the reviews about his music. He must be enjoying all the serious comments about his lyrics and sounds as he enjoys the pictures he is taken when he is drunk! Common, we all have fun looking at how trashed we were. Or we don’t, it’s up to each and every person. What he creates may be crap later, divine to all of us. I read a comment: pity he quit drinking…Oh, my God!

Back to the intelligence of Depeche Mode. I guess what I am trying to say is in fact very simple. They somehow manage to inherently make us think and express ourselves regarding their music. And that is the smartest thing. Think of the bluntness in their lyrics. Think of the openness and kindness and sincerity. Lie to me, but do it with sincerity. Do they do it on purpose? No way. They are just blessed with the only talent that makes people immortal: the talent of creating debate. What is the most controversial book in the Universe? The Bible. I rest my case. Peace will come to me.

I repeat: Sounds of the Universe was written for me! And you, and you, and you… All of you who feel that. It does not matter that it goes back to the 80’s, or that the guitar is not as annoying as it used to be (oops! I am making comments already! – see it works?). Nothing matters. What matters is the need to talk about each track, to share the Depeche Mode experience with your friends and the need to convince the whole world that it is worth listening to Depeche Mode (or not). I am one of those people who CONVERT people to Depeche Mode. I start with Strangelove and I end up showing them 2001 Bercy… Some love it and start listening on a regular basis. And what’s most important, they start buying the cd’s and dvd’s.

So the intelligent, addictive, controversial and long debated Depeche Mode have been part of my life for 22 years now. Sounds of the Universe is the best Depeche Mode album for me because of a few very subjective reasons:

1. I expected worse and what I am listening to right now (for the past few weeks) is far beyond anything I expected! You should have seen my face when I first heard I Feel You. I could only whisper: Oh, my God, what happened? I hated the change, the sound, I wanted my synths back, I cried, I hoped, I listened over and over again… And then I listened to Ultra and I died a little more. I cannot like this album and PEACE (as we say in Romanian, meaning I cannot like it at all). I liked It’s No Good and Bottom Line… I didn’t relate to the songs on Songs of Faith and Devotion and Ultra. They were not about me. Then I related to Exiter. Not the day I listened to it the first time. Nonono. Much later. And then I hated Playing the Angel for months. I hated the sound. I wanted them back! My way or the highway! And I ended up liking Lilian and John the Revelator and A Pain that I Am Used to and almost all of them. So, you can understand my reluctance and fear when I got the first glimpses of Sounds. AND I LOVE IT! It feels like listening to Lilian, People are People, Lie to Me, Personal Jesus, Set Me Free and a few others I love. Completely.

2. The album is very cohesive. Yes, you may say a little linear and boring, but I prefer to say that songs just flow naturally one after another…No shocks, no scratches, no wounds. Just DM in pure form.

3. I thought the songs will sound great live. So far Jimmy Kimmel, Luxembourg proved me right. I look forward to seeing them live on Sunday, May 10, in Tel Aviv. On my birthday.

So my conclusion is: unless you have been waiting for 19 years for an entire album to relate to again, you won’t like Sounds of the Universe as I do! And I don’t think that it is unfinished, childish, uninspired and underwhelming. It is the best, because it is the last and because they are back.

And one more thing. Although I stated that I hate Ultra, I don’t really. It’s just that INTELLIGENT trick that Martin is playing on my mind. Making me hate, or love, or Depeche Mode. There is love and hate and Depeche Mode. If I were God, I would name the state I’ve been in for 22 years “Depeche Mode”! And it is, by far, THE STRONGEST FEELING IN THE UNIVERSE – fans know what I am getting at.

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