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Sounds of the Universe
Both Depeche Mode and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs - headlining the most anticipated show of the season in Israel - are peddling new albums. And luckily for the May 10th concert-goers, neither one of them is a clunker.
Depeche Mode, celebrating almost 30 years, is still the quintessential synth pop band. While its self-touting PR places the band alongside U2, REM and Metallica as belonging to 'the select premier league of superstarsâ€¦ who have survived from the early 1980s with their ideals intact," I'm not exactly sure the band belongs in that league.
It's always had to fight a critical uphill battle, due to its almost exclusive reliance on using synthesizers to create detached, cold pop music. However, in doing so, Depeche Mode forged its own kind of "roots" sound that continues to crop up in the latter day pop evangelism of artists like The Killers, MGMT and even Coldplay.
Sounds of the Universe, the band's first album since the impressive 2005 comeback Playing the Angel, finds it paired again with producer Ben Hillier, who has found the winning formula of updating Depeche's early-'80s industrial sound with a modern sheen.
Less dance oriented, and moodier than one might expect from Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, the album creates an evocative mood, led by the stellar vocal work by Gahan and Gore throughout. The album's first single, "Wrong," is as close to R&B as Depeche Mode will ever likely come, and "Peace" can be best described as techno-gospel. Another standout is "Come Back," a dark and dirty droning rocker.
The songs on Sounds of the Universe will undoubtedly sound larger than life at Ramat Gan Stadium, and that's part of their appeal. Depeche Mode continues to prove that its members are just about the only artists around who are able to humanize electronic pop and make you feel the heart beating beneath the wires.
YEAH YEAH YEAHS
"Zero," the first song on the third album by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz - sounds like it could be fit right in to a 1980s Depeche Mode record if it were led by Debbie Harry. A pulsing dance beat and pouty vocals from singer Karen O demanding to "get your leather on" indicate that the New York garage rockers are upping the ante on their minimalist sound in creating their most cohesive album yet.
Vintage synths and a swirling new wave sound dominate the album as the trio squeezes out inspired sparks on the rockers, including "Heads Will Roll" and "Soft Shock." Following the arty experimentation of their debut - Maps - and the introspection of Show Your Bones, It's Blitz sounds like party time, as the band performs with swagger and enthusiasm.
"Dull Life" sounds like The B-52s with cojones, as guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase settle into a furious groove. At the same time, the band can turn dreamy and gentle, with the vulnerable "Skeletons" and "Little Shadow" leading the way.
It's Blitz sounds like a band entering its prime, and don't be surprised if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs do some show stealing in Ramat Gan.