Most electronic music can be classified in two distinct categories-- generic background pump-up music ideal for intensive workouts and the dark soundtrack to a lovesick adolescent's life.
Sounds of the Universe, Depeche Mode's newest record and twelfth studio album, falls into the latter category as a brilliant addition to their already formidable discography.
Sounds stays true to the band's intricate synthesized melodies, while exploring a more dreamlike approach to songwriting. Although it's possibly their most lyrically advanced work, they don't forget their roots, with songs like "Peace" and "Fragile Tension" backed by familiar dance grooves.
The album's opening track, "In Chains," has a creepy vibe, as an ensemble of eerie sounds combine to back a powerful vocal chant which sounds like a follow up to 1989's "Personal Jesus." The track "Come Back," loaded with fuzzy, distorted guitar, is somehow removed from reality, in a way reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." The album concludes with the menacing "Corrupt," which leaves Sounds hanging on a note of sadistic satisfaction.
Ultimately, Depeche Mode's latest effort has found a fitting balance between 21st-century synthesizers and the raw power of vintage dance-rock.