Depeche Mode (Mute)

The last four Depeche Mode albums have arrived at such lengthy intervals that each has been billed as a comeback. Every one, though, has offered mere consolidation. The only big twist in the group’s 30-year career was in 1986, when they ditched bouncy synth pop for gloomy electro-goth. Since then, it’s been variations on a theme, some successful, and some forgettable.

Sounds Of The Universe slots tidily into this tale. All the Depeche touchstones are here: booming vocals, rigid rhythmic timekeeping, murky guitars, kinky metaphors. And, yes, some of it is successful and some of it is forgettable.

The opening tracks are Depeche at their dreariest. In Chains goes nowhere; the Dave Gahan-penned Hole To Feed is little better; and Wrong might as well be satire. Martin Gore then remembers how to write songs: Fragile Tension and Little Soul stand out a mile in this company. But then he forgets again, and the album suffers.

See you again in four years?