Saturday, April 25, 2009

Darkness and Light

Pet Shop Boys
"Yes" album
Released: April 21st, 2009

Depeche Mode

"Sounds of the Universe" album
April 21st, 2009

This week marks new releases from two British bands who pioneered the electronic, synth driven music of the 1980s: Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. Like the sun and moon, these two iconic bands couldn't exist without the other. Since their debut albums, Depeche Mode have explored the dark, somber side of life, while Pet Shop Boys have taken a more colorful, tongue-in-cheek approach. Both groups have also remained suprisingly relevant, while most of their 1980s contemporaries have fallen into obscurity.

On the high-energy "Yes," Pet Shop Boys relish in their sardonic humor and knack for memorable hooks. The opening cut, "Love etc.," bounces along with a bubbly synth line and call-response chorus, declaring a revolution on the shallow excesses of popular culture. "All Around the World" is less cynical and celebrates liberty and freedom. Throughout the album, the lyrics shift from sarcastic optimism to vulnerable confessionals. Musically, Pet Shop Boys are on top of their game with lush string arrangements, acoustic guitar and even harmonica accompanying their wall of synthesizers.

Contrarily, Depeche Mode's "Sounds of the Universe" creates a more atmospheric, less immediate experience. Their focus is on dissonant, oddball arrangements comprised of space-age bleeps and blips along industrial guitar riffs and ambient synths. Lyrically, the album delves into shameful obsessions, imperfections of the soul and unrequited love. The lead single, "Wrong," is from the perspective of a dispirited fatalist, who finds every decision he's made is the result of his erroneous genetics. Although the melodies aren't nearly as accessible as previous work, Depeche Mode has perfected the art of despair.

Watch Pet Shop Boys "Love Etc." music video

Watch Depeche Mode's "Wrong" music video

No comments:

Post a Comment