Playing the Angel

Studio Album by released in 2005
Playing the Angel's tracklist:
A Pain That I'm Used To
John the Revelator
Suffer Well
The Sinner in Me
Precious
Macro
I Want It All
Nothing's Impossible
Introspectre
Damaged People
Lilian
The Darkest Star

Playing the Angel review

Already being cited as one of the defining albums of the Depeche Mode's illustrious career Playing The Angel features 12 brand new tracks and is the first to include songs written exclusively by frontman Dave Gahan (I Want It All, Suffer Well and Nothing's Impossible). Recorded in Santa Barbara, New York and London and produced by Ben Hillier, Playing The Angel sees Depeche Mode cementing their legendary status once more. The blasphemous opinions surrounding their 2001’s release Exciter were well warranted. Exciter didn't supply Depeche Mode diehards much in the way of dance tunes, and the experimental sounds drummed up by Bjork producer Mark Bell strayed from the industrial standard in an overly delicate, less than welcoming way. True fans, luckily, forgive and forget and as well they should, given Playing The Angel's return to dark, brooding greatness. The first new album in four years is quintessential Depeche Mode-hi-tech electronic pop with enormous hooks and yet faster paced, more urgent than recent albums. The band has sold upward of 50 million records worldwide during its 25 years, but Playing The Angel sounds as fresh and exciting as any in Depeche Mode's glorious history.

The first single Precious is a typical Martin Gore masterwork, an all-electronic, retro-flavored pop that reminds old Depeche Mode songs – a Personal Jesus level accomplishment. There is an immediate quality to Precious, making it easy to like instantly. The verses are bouncy and the chorus is unusually catchy for a Depeche Mode song of today. Also on that order are Suffer Well; the droning, lovely and altogether danceable Lillian; I Want It All, whose muffled beats and blasts of suck-you-in static recall the industrial glory days; and the simple, synthy exercise in hyper-intelligent pop that is John the Revelator. Those songs make it easy to salute the band for parting the sea of imitators and returning to its roots. The overall sound is like a mixture of Depeche Mode albums from Some Great Reward to Songs Of Faith And Devotion, with some very modern touches to brush off the retro accusations. The album resembles in mood perhaps mostly Songs Of Faith And Devotion, but it is far more electronic, without the latter's murkiness. The beats are oppressive, almost industrial, but the songs are lightened and livened up by those big old-school Depeche Mode style swathes of grandiose synth-sweeps.

An astonishingly fresh and exuberant release, this album boasts a lyrical and musical progression for the band as it marks the 25th anniversary of the band. Producer Ben Hillier has done a tremendous job. “We are all feeling incredibly positive about the album. Ben has brought a whole new dynamic to the group which is quite inspiring,” says Dave Gahan. Playing The Angel is the sound of Depeche Mode invigorated, it's almost like they have become 15 years younger since the last we heard of them.

(12.10.2005)
Rate review4.82
Total votes - 746


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