Sounds of the Universe

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Sounds of the Universe
Studio album by Depeche Mode
Released 17 April 2009 (2009-04-17)
Recorded May–December 2008; Sound Design (Santa Barbara, California); Chung King Studios (New York City, New York)
Genre Synthpop, alternative dance,[1] electronic rock[2]
Length 60:52
Label Mute
Producer Ben Hillier
Depeche Mode chronology
Playing the Angel
(2005)
Sounds of the Universe
(2009)
Delta Machine
(2013)
Singles from Sounds of the Universe
  1. "Wrong"
    Released: 6 April 2009 (2009-04-06)
  2. "Peace"
    Released: 15 June 2009 (2009-06-15)
  3. "Fragile Tension"/"Hole to Feed"
    Released: 7 December 2009 (2009-12-07)

Sounds of the Universe is the twelfth studio album by English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released on 17 April 2009 by Mute Records. It was supported by the 2009–10 concert tour Tour of the Universe. Three singles were released from the album; "Wrong", "Peace", and a double A-side of "Fragile Tension" and "Hole to Feed". "Perfect" was also released in the US as a promotional single.

As with the previous album, Playing the Angel, Dave Gahan has once again written three songs with Christian Eigner and Andrew Phillpott: "Hole to Feed", "Come Back" and "Miles Away/The Truth Is".[3] "Spacewalker" and the bonus track "Esque" are instrumentals. Martin Gore shares lead singing duties with Gahan on "In Chains", "Peace" and "Little Soul", he sings the lead of "Jezebel" and the B-side "The Sun and the Moon and the Stars" on the second disc of the deluxe box set. The B-side "Oh Well" is the first track ever to be co-written by Gore and Gahan. The album ends with a short hidden instrumental reprise from the song "Wrong" after the final track "Corrupt" concludes.

The album was released by Capitol Records in the United States and by EMI in Canada, marking the first time in the band's catalog that saw distribution from EMI within North America, where previous albums were released by Sire Records and Reprise Records, a division of Warner Music Group.

Background[edit]

While Dave Gahan was still busy with his solo album Hourglass (2007), Martin Gore was in his home studio in Santa Barbara, California, working on new songs. In May 2008 the band hit the studio to record their most anticipated twelfth album.[4][5] As a producer, Ben Hillier took the strings again, because the band were so satisfied with their previous effort together on Playing the Angel (2005).

The band described the time in the studio as very productive, a total of twenty-two songs were created and it was difficult to choose the right songs for the album. Five of the songs not used on the album were released as part of the deluxe box set.[6]

Short video clips of the band and production team at work in the studio were regularly posted on the band's homepage.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 70/100[7]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1]
The A.V. Club A−[8]
Entertainment Weekly B+[9]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[10]
NME 7/10[11]
Pitchfork Media 6.3/10[12]
PopMatters 5/10[13]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[14]
Spin 6/10[15]
The Times 4/5 stars[16]

Sounds of the Universe received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 70, based on 28 reviews.[7] Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt stated that on Sounds of the Universe, Depeche Mode "still sound genuinely inspired"[9] and Ned Raggett of AllMusic gave the album four out of five stars, concluding: "Sounds of the Universe is a grower, relying on a few listens to fully take effect, but when it does, it shows Depeche Mode are still able to combine pop-hook accessibility and their own take on 'roots' music for an electronic age with sonic experimentation and recombination."[1] Awarding the album five stars, Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph noted that the album "shows up the imaginative constraints of most guitar-based rock."[17]

However, Rolling Stone critic Melissa Maerz felt that "the result sounds like a time machine back to the Eighties", adding that "Depeche Mode should be poised for a comeback, but it's too soon to unpack those black turtlenecks."[14] Bill Stewart of PopMatters rated the album five out of ten, saying Depeche Mode "tempt us with a strong first half and then dump us in a collection of tossed off b-sides."[13] Jon Caramanica wrote for The New York Times that while the album "lacks the fragility of 1984's Some Great Reward or the earned attitude of 1990's Violator, it's unmistakably an attempt at revisiting the past, admirable either as an act of defiant stubbornness or tenacious commitment", but also opined that "even at its most imaginative, this is seamless Depeche Mode filler, music that could be made by any number of acolytes."[18]

Sounds of the Universe debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart on sales of 30,537 copies[19]—the band's highest position since 1997's chart-topping Ultra. In the United States, the album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 80,000 units in its first week.[20] However, it only spent one week in the UK and US top ten, and like its predecessor Playing the Angel, it only spent four weeks on the UK chart altogether. Despite its high chart placing, Sounds of the Universe became the band's lowest selling studio album in the UK, and is their second album to fail to achieve a certification from the British Phonographic Industry, after 2001's Exciter. The album was ultimately ranked number 200 on the Billboard 200 year-end chart for 2009,[21] and had sold 193,000 copies in the US by November 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[22]

Sounds of the Universe was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2010 Grammy Awards, but lost out to Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.[23] The album's sleeve design was voted number ten on the 2009 Best Art Vinyl poll.[24]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Martin Gore, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "In Chains"     6:53
2. "Hole to Feed"   Dave Gahan, Christian Eigner, Andrew Phillpott 3:59
3. "Wrong"     3:13
4. "Fragile Tension"     4:09
5. "Little Soul"     3:31
6. "In Sympathy"     4:54
7. "Peace"     4:29
8. "Come Back"   Gahan, Eigner, Phillpott 5:15
9. "Spacewalker"     1:53
10. "Perfect"     4:33
11. "Miles Away/The Truth Is"   Gahan, Eigner, Phillpott 4:14
12. "Jezebel"     4:41
13. "Corrupt" (runs to 8:58 with a 42-second hidden track beginning at 8:17)   8:59

LP+CD[edit]

Contains the standard 13-track album on two LPs, as well as a CD of the album (as per the standard CD).

Special edition CD+DVD[edit]

Contains the standard 13-track album, plus a bonus DVD with exclusive features:

Video
  • Sounds of the Universe (A Short Film) – 10:05
  • Wrong (Promo Video) – 3:16
Audio
  • Sounds of the Universe in 5.1 surround sound
  • "In Chains" (Minilogue's Earth Remix)
  • "Little Soul" (Thomas Fehlmann Flowing Ambient Mix)
  • "Jezebel" (SixToes Remix)

iTunes Pass version[edit]

With iTunes Pass, fans receive new and exclusive singles, remixes, video and other content from Sounds of the Universe over a set period of time, delivered to their libraries as soon as they're available. In addition, the iTunes standard pre-order release of Sounds of the Universe contained "Oh Well" (Black Light Odyssey Dub) as track 14, along with an exclusive edit of "Wrong" called the Trentemøller Remix Edit as track 15.

The iTunes Pass track listing contained the standard 13-track album, plus the following:

  • "Oh Well" (Black Light Odyssey Dub) – 5:02
  • "Wrong" music video – 3:23
  • "The Sun and the Moon and the Stars" (Electronic Periodic's Microdrum Mix) – 4:04
  • "Miles Away/The Truth Is" (Lagos Boys Choir Remix) – 4:06
  • "Wrong" (Thin White Duke Remix) – 7:41
  • "Wrong" (Magda's Scallop Funk Remix) – 6:23
  • "Wrong" (D.I.M. vs. Boys Noize Remix) – 5:09
  • Sounds of the Universe (A Short Film) – 10:05
  • "Wrong" (Trentemøller Remix Edit) – 5:45
  • "Jezebel" (SixToes Remix) – 5:32
  • "Little Soul" (Thomas Fehlmann Flowing Ambient Mix) – 9:20
  • "In Chains" (Minilogue's Earth Remix) – 7:54
  • "Corrupt" (Studio Session) – 4:54
  • "Little Soul" (Studio Session) – 3:57
  • "Little Soul" (Thomas Fehlmann Flowing Funk Dub) – 10:03
  • "Peace" (Hervé's 'Warehouse Frequencies' Remix) – 5:10
  • "Peace" (The Japanese Pop Stars Remix) – 6:41
  • "In Sympathy" (Live in Tel Aviv) – 5:18
  • "Walking in My Shoes" (Live in Tel Aviv) – 6:24

Deluxe box set edition[edit]

The Deluxe Box Set Edition of Sounds of the Universe

Includes three CDs containing the album, bonus songs and remixes, as well as 14 exclusive demos ranging from as far back as the Music for the Masses era.[28] It will also contain a DVD featuring three films, a promo video for "Wrong", four songs filmed live in the studio in December 2008, and the album and bonus tracks mastered in 5.1 surround. The box set also includes two 84-page hardback books, the first featuring lyrics to all the songs from the Sounds of the Universe sessions, along with exclusive photography by Anton Corbijn, and the second containing exclusive and candid studio photography by Daniel Miller, Ben Hillier, Luke Smith and Ferg Peterkin. In addition, the box set includes 2 enamel badges, 5 artcards sealed in a collector's envelope, a poster, and a certificate of authenticity.

CD 1 – Sounds of the Universe
The standard 13-track album.
CD 2 – Bonus Tracks & Remixes
  1. "Light" – 4:44
  2. "The Sun and the Moon and the Stars" – 4:41
  3. "Ghost" – 6:26
  4. "Esque" – 2:17
  5. "Oh Well" (Gore, Gahan) – 6:02
  6. "Corrupt (Efdemin Remix)" – 6:29
  7. "In Chains (Minilogue's Earth Remix)" – 7:54
  8. "Little Soul (Thomas Fehlmann Flowing Ambient Mix)" – 9:20
  9. "Jezebel (SixToes Remix)" – 5:33
  10. "Perfect (Electronic Periodic's Dark Drone Mix)" – 5:21
  11. "Wrong (Caspa Remix)" – 5:04
CD 3 – Demos
  1. "Little 15" – 4:16
  2. "Clean" – 3:42
  3. "Sweetest Perfection" – 3:23
  4. "Walking in My Shoes" – 3:22
  5. "I Feel You" – 4:03
  6. "Judas" – 3:25
  7. "Surrender" – 5:00
  8. "Only When I Lose Myself" – 5:22
  9. "Nothing's Impossible" – 5:02
  10. "Corrupt" – 4:41
  11. "Peace" – 4:33
  12. "Jezebel" – 4:38
  13. "Come Back" – 5:09
  14. "In Chains" – 4:33
DVD
  • Making the Universe / Film – 45:23
  • Usual Thing, Try and Get the Question in the Answer – 55:12
  • Sounds of the Universe (A Short Film) – 10:05
  • Wrong (Promo Video) – 3:16
  • Studio Sessions:
  1. "Corrupt" – 4:08
  2. "Little Soul" – 3:52
  3. "Stories of Old" – 3:24
  4. "Come Back" – 6:05
  • Audio: Sounds of the Universe plus bonus tracks in 5.1 surround sound
Packaging/additional content
  • Two-piece custom made box with foil blocking.
  • 2× 84 page hardback books: The first featuring the lyrics to all the songs from the Sounds of the Universe sessions accompanied by exclusive photography by Anton Corbijn. The second featuring exclusive and candid studio photography by Daniel Miller, Ben Hillier, Luke Smith and Ferg Peterkin.
  • Two exclusive enamel badges
  • Poster
  • Five artcards, sealed in a collectors envelope
  • Certificate of authenticity

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Sounds of the Universe.[29]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Austria (IFPI Austria)[78] Gold 10,000x
Belgium (BEA)[79] Platinum 30,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[80] Gold 15,000^
France (SNEP)[81] Platinum 91,240[82]
Germany (BVMI)[83] 3× Gold 300,000^
Hungary (Mahasz)[84] Gold 3,000x
Italy (FIMI)[85] Platinum 60,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[71] Gold 40,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[86] 2× Platinum 40,000*
Russia (NFPF)[87] Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[88] Gold 20,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[89] Platinum 30,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[90] Silver 60,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
Australia[91] 17 April 2009 EMI
Germany[92]
Italy[93]
France[94] 20 April 2009
Sweden[95]
United Kingdom[96] Mute Records
United States[97] 21 April 2009 Mute Records, Capitol Records, Virgin Records
Canada[98] EMI
Japan[25] 22 April 2009

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]