Sunday, September 4, 2011

Listening to the universe....

Depeche certainly continue the winning streak, after starting the decade off with the (imho) slight stumble of "Exciter". The album opens superbly with the snaking, swirled lust and longing of "In Chains". Everything about this track rings with a "We're back, and we're here to show you how it's done" panache. Soundwise, this album continues in the vein of Playing The Angel, Ben Hillier's production leans toward a "more old school, but still spiked with new tricks" style - again, a good mix. This time around, the leadoff single "Wrong" is a good track, but not quite the digs-deep-into-you classic that "Precious" was last time around.

"Peace" and "Perfect" are two signs of things hinted at in interviews with the band - that this is a more uplifting record generally than the last few. That holds through the second half, but this is the band whose last album was taglined "Pain and suffering in various tempos", so you know they aren't going to be all sunshine and rainbows. "Miles Away" continues this - a bit downtrodden, and a bit cluttered musically - if they had filtered out some more of the synth-noises, it would have sounded a bit better. "Jezebel" is haunting and gloomy - you can almost picture Gore singing it while sitting on a cliff edge/walking city streets in fog/take your pick of sedate, down-tuned settings. "Corrupt" creeps the speed back up a bit to finish off, lightening the mood a little bit, but still keeping that fine balance between upbeat and downcast they cultivate so well.

Overall, not as good back to back as Playing The Angel, but a strong entry, and a sign they definitely haven't lost it. A collection of mostly strong tracks that grab hold easily, with a few that sound sketchy, but still worthy of a good listen. Overall: 7/10

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