Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. On the whole, 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.
  2. They tempt us with a strong first half and then dump us in a collection of tossed off b-sides.
  3. Ending with a brief, queasy reprise tease of 'Wrong,' Sounds of the Universe concludes anticlimactically, an echo of its promising start.
  4. 80
    Sounds Of The Universe is Depeche's most tune-packed and sonically adventurous album for over a decade. [May 2009, p.82]
  5. It's hard not to feel disappointed by the sense that a band who have raised their game so many times have nowhere new to go. [May 2009, p.114]
  6. 60
    Even where Sounds Of The Universe resembles a self-help manual, it does so with commanding tunes and a ring of truth. [May 2009, p.102]
  7. The result sounds like a time machine back to the Eighties.
  8. So the album doesn’t sound old but there’s a refreshing warmth emanating from these fizzing and burbling Moogs and Parker Steinway keyboards.
  9. With Universe and 2005’s "Playing The Angel," Depeche Mode has created back-to-back albums compelling enough to stand up to its past best.
  10. After all these years it's good to hear Depeche Mode attempting, and for the most part succeeding, at staying relevant with age. [Spring 2009, p.65]
  11. Once again the theme of emotional cleansing runs through much of the lyrics, though this particular well of inspiration has not yet run dry.
  12. Sounds Of The Universe arguably goes on for a bit too long--it doesn't help that closer 'Corrupt' is throwbackish bobbins--and it certainly could have done without token Gore vocal ‘Jezebel’. But other than that it’s just a damn fine record, possessed of the kind of unshowy high quality the Basildon band have seemingly actively opposed in the past.
  13. 60
    Sounds of the Universe comes on a bit softer, with less industrial guitar clang and more of chief songwriter Martin Gore's dreamy atmospherics.
  14. A less then stellar return, then, but a welcome one nevertheless.
  15. Somehow, though, on Sounds of the Universe they still sound genuinely inspired.
  16. Like 2005’s pleasantly surprising "Playing The Angel," Sounds Of The Universe, their 12th album, is a triumph, though more cunning in its method.
  17. They might not be affecting musical culture the way they did in their prime, but at least half of their latest effort is as strong as anything they've written.
  18. 70
    You could roll your eyes and complain that these guys are still pimping teen angst in middle age, but really it sounds more like it’s matured into the longest-running mid-life crisis ever--30 years and counting.
  19. After nearly 30 years, the trio--now comprising Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher--still imbue every aspect of its 12th studio album, Sounds of the Universe, with imagery and sonic flourishes that make its music fresh and familiar.
  20. Its 12th full-length album fits neatly into its discography while sounding contemporary and building on the trio's lean electro-rock.
  21. Dave Gahan's songwriting has improved since 2007's solo "Hourglass," but this Sounds like a mundane midlife crisis.
  22. Even at its most imaginative, this is seamless Depeche Mode filler, music that could be made by any number of acolytes.
  23. Sounds Of The Universe also happens to throb with sonic originality and dark, complex humanity, and is a fine addition to one of the richest, most intriguing back catalogues in pop.
  24. While it may lack the aggressive and occasionally caustic momentum of "Playing The Angel," Sounds Of The Universe succeeds primarily because of its ability to make a nostalgic nod to past successes while still looking to the future.
  25. That bleak tone is frequently recaptured on their newest release, Sounds of the Universe, beginning with 'In Chains,' a brooding seven-minute romantic melodrama that hums and crackles with electronics as singer Dave Gahan seethes.
  26. 70
    Depeche Mode have produced another album fit to fill headphones and stadiums, leaning more towards a muted commercial than perverted side, but for 30-year veterans there’s really nothing wrong with that.
  27. They might be no longer going through the motions, but those moves seem awfully familiar.
  28. It plays like a late-career recap of all that's come before, referencing both the bubblegum synth-pop of its early days and the self-conscious black-leather sensuality of its 1987-1993 creative peak.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 88 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 34
  2. Negative: 6 out of 34
  1. Nov 27, 2013
    It's a a 'gray masterpiece' from Depeche Mode; "Sounds Of The Universe" it's like see the world trough the mirror, and don't understand whats happens. Not so formidable like "Playing The Angel", but show the other side from the religious mind from Dave, Adan and Martin. Full Review »
  2. Mar 25, 2013
    So, this is DM circa 2009. Well, as a DM fan since 1990 and having listened to and re-listend to every CD dozens of times since then I think that I have finally hit a wall. Is it me with the problem? I read so many good reviews of this and I scratch my head. There are almost no hooks here, the song structure is so loose that there is, at times, almost no recognizable pattern to certain songs. I knew that I was in trouble during the first minute as this annoying computer tone drones in your head for no apparent reason then finally leads into In Chains, one of the few decent tracks on the CD. They really should have made the first minute skipable (reminds me of the annoying opening of Freelove). Wrong, the lead single, was picked for obvious reasons, it is the only track with any clout and aformentioned structure, and it completely misleads listeners as to what the rest of the album sound like, as is is completely out of place in the otherwise atmospheric, formless sludge that follows it. After strong albums Exciter and Playing the Angel, this is supremely disapointing. With 4 years between each CD we will unfortunately have to wait quite a while now, with the hopes of a return to form. Full Review »
  3. Nov 29, 2012
    A couple of good tracks (Wrong, In Sympathy) with some ok ones (Corrupt, Miles Away/The Truth Is, In Chains) and the rest forgettable. Some say the b-sides are better than the album tracks. Full Review »