12 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Nearly a quarter century after making their full-length debut, Depeche Mode achieve new levels of synth-pop nuance on 2005’s Playing the Angel. “Damaged People” explores gloomy themes of faith and mortality, with slow-building chords and chiming synths shining a new light compared to their ’80s hits. Singer Dave Gahan pushes for the stars on “Macro,” his voice riding high above smoldering, distorted textures, and “John the Revelator” transforms a traditional gospel song into bruising industrial pop.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Nearly a quarter century after making their full-length debut, Depeche Mode achieve new levels of synth-pop nuance on 2005’s Playing the Angel. “Damaged People” explores gloomy themes of faith and mortality, with slow-building chords and chiming synths shining a new light compared to their ’80s hits. Singer Dave Gahan pushes for the stars on “Macro,” his voice riding high above smoldering, distorted textures, and “John the Revelator” transforms a traditional gospel song into bruising industrial pop.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.4 out of 5
162 Ratings
162 Ratings
HerrDoktorZ ,

Better than Exciter, but what isn't?

As a hardcode DM fan since the age of 12 (the first CD I ever bought was "Construction Time Again"), I rate anything that was done with Alan Wilder as 5+ stars. I think the two albums released since his departure have gone steadily downhill. I had nearly given up all hope that they could ever rekindle their past glory. And then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they release "Precious"!
Hands down, this is one of the best DM songs ever recorded. The percolating
analog synth, the samples of metallic clanging, the lyrics about a failed relationship with brooding religious overtones...this is the stuff of classic DM!

My expectations for "Playing the Angel" were probably impossibly high, but
I am seriously underwhelmed. I would only give it two stars if I wasn't confident
that it will grow on me. Every other DM album has, I'm sure PTA will be no different.

I never thought that I could say this, but I think Martin Gore's obsession with
pain, suffering, and sardonic religious themes actually seems overdone on this album. It would have been nice to have at least ONE song about sex, nihlism, or lying just to break it up a bit :-) Many of the lyrics come off as stale and corny.
"John the Revelator" includes a line rhyming up "revelator", "elevator" and
"smooth operator"...*cringe* Anyone who grew up in the 80's would probably agree that the only valid excuse for such lyrical cheese is to intentionally inflict pain :-)

That being said, the highlights from PTA have to be "Suffer Well" and
"A Pain That I'm Used To". "Precious" is in a class by itelf, nothing
else quite compares. "The Sinner in Me" and "I Want it All" are evocative of
the more synth-driven tracks from SoFaD, and have strong growth potential.
Ironically, the most hopefull tracks, "Macro" and "Nothing's Impossible",
are actually the most lugubrious and tedious. The one instrumental track, "Introspectre", is a perfect example of how much musical complexity they have lost without Alan Wilder. Most notably, PTA lacks a high-energy
arena-rock song, practically a DM trademark. "John the Revelator" is probably supposed to fill this role, but I still can't cut through the aforementioned lyrical cheese.

wal-marx ,

Is it worth it?

Hell yes, it is. Stop waiting around for a record better than Violater, it isn't out there. This is Depeche Mode now, not fifteen years ago, and they've made a fantastic record. The sounds are beautiful, there is a real edgy tension in everything, even the slower tracks, and Dave sounds amazing as ever. One does not find groups that stay relevant and challenging after so many years. DM does both, with authority, energy, and honesty. This sounds like the kind of record made by a band about to be huge, and that's almost unheard of after so much time and so much history.

By the way, Martin Gore remains one of the greatest songwriters of the past 25 years, period.

atticbase ,

Bring Back Flood as a Producer

It is obvious the DM takes on the sound of whatever producer they are using at the time. Had this albums been produced by Flood or Alan Wilder this could have been a return to form. Unfortunately, the synths can actually annoy and take away from the overall feeling the song is trying to invoke. The overall feel of the album is a feeling of unfinished work, like the album didn't go into post-production before final pressing. I do give cudos to Dave Gahan though, his songs are actually better than Martin's. Buy individual songs, not the whole album.

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