Album review: Depeche Mode
Sounds Of The Universe
While it’s obvious what to do when you’re too old to rock (buy a stool, invest in an acoustic, learn how to play ‘In The Pines’), there’s no real career path for synth-pop acts like Depeche Mode to follow. After all, they can’t play unplugged gigs, can they? On their 12th album and 29 years into their career, the Basildon bondage boys have switched down a gear by hunting for vintage synths and drum machines on eBay, imagining an alternative past where technology froze at some point round 1990, but their desire to make futuristic music didn’t. So the album doesn’t sound old but there’s a refreshing warmth emanating from these fizzing and burbling Moogs and Parker Steinway keyboards. On ‘Spacewalker’ they channel the South Pacific exotica of Martin Denny via
cult ’80s Japanese synth sorts Yellow Magic Orchestra, but it’s not all like some time capsule discovered in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. There’s the statutory techno spiritual stomper ‘Wrong’ and the shoegazey ‘Come Back’, which flashes Mary Chain guitar and the electro psych of MGMT. They don’t always get the balance right between new and old, but this suggests an exciting old age.