Reviews: Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys’

Depeche Mode, ‘Sounds of the Universe’ and Pet Shop Boys, ‘Yes’: Aidin Vaziri | Given that both acts started out making music on cheap synthesizers, it’s something of a miracle that, three decades later, Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys still have the capacity to draw people to record stores with their arch meditations on life and death. More puzzling is the sudden creative surge evident on their new releases. Since dropping its dark-hued 1990 masterpiece, “Violator,” it seems as if Depeche Mode has merely been fine-tuning the same formula. Not anymore. On “Sounds of the Universe” the British trio is reinvigorated, offering a thoroughly contemporary spin on its sleazy electronic rock with bad-tempered songs such as “Fragile Tension” and “Miles Away.” The music is fuzzier, less defined and, on a handful of tracks, unruly enough to feel like a reaction to the efficiency and order that came before it. If only there were a few stronger melodies (and substantially better lyrics) the group’s 13th studio album would rank among its best. “Come back, come back to me,” Dave Gahan (left) sings. “I’ll be waiting here patiently.” Pet Shop Boys, on the other hand, have never had trouble making music that sounds like it’s from the future. The club duo’s 10th album was co-produced by Xenomania, the powerhouse team behind British pop juggernauts Girls Aloud, resulting in a high-gloss affair that effortlessly shuffles through weightless rave beats, elegant guitar strumming courtesy of the Smiths’ Johnny Marr, and gleaming tunes such as “All Over the World,” “King of Rome” and “Beautiful People.” It’s enough to get your hopes up for the return of Kajagoogoo.


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