Playing the Angel

Playing the Angel

by Depeche Mode
4.0 10

CD

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Overview

Playing the Angel

While there are plenty of second-generation (not to mention third-generation) bands mining the synth-pop songbook for inspiration, precious few of the originators have survived to offer competition -- and even fewer actually make a good case for their continued endurance. Depeche Mode, however, are experiencing something of a renaissance, and on this -- the 11th studio disc of their quarter-century career -- the trio prove quite capable of partying like it's 1979. Although considerably more hook-oriented than the band's most recent offerings, Playing the Angel isn't merely a rehash of the glory days -- "The Sinner in Me," for instance, replaces the band's stark simplicity with a thicket of countermelodies worthy of classic Queen -- the sense of purpose remains. That purpose, an unmistakably British take on George Clinton's "free your mind and your ass will follow" adage, allows them to depress listeners with mordant thoughts before impressing upon them the need to get onto the dance floor. That's the net effect of the gothic doom mongering of "John the Revelator" (the disc's heaviest interlude) and "Nothing's Impossible." The latter tune is one of several written by frontman David Gahan -- who, as odd as it may seem, has always ceded those duties to Martin Gore. And while his sonic sensibilities aren't all that different from Gore's, Gahan offers a decidedly different lyrical voice -- evidenced in some tunes, most notably "Suffer Well," that address his years of heroin abuse and subsequent kicking of the habit. It's a subtle, but palpable change in the path of the good ship Depeche -- one that steers it into choppier waters that ultimately make the ride far more exciting.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/18/2005
Label: Reprise / Wea
UPC: 0093624934820
catalogNumber: 49348
Rank: 83879

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Playing the Angel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been a DM fan for 22 years. I have every studio album, Gore and Gahan's solo albums, I've seen them in concert 13 times in 3 different states. So when I say I almost didn't buy this album because EXCITER sounded like it came from some other group, please note that I'm down with 'Fast Fashion'! PLAYING THE ANGEL has recaptured the best of the old DM sound, while obviously coming from a new place of experience and maturity. Tempering Gore's exquisite and instantly identifiable songs with Gahan's revealing and raw lyrics has made for a brilliant, multi-faceted release! If you're a DM fan, you can't miss this one: If you're a club kid grooving on The Bravery and The Killers, get a leg up and get this cd now--its where those other bands got the idea in the first place!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely superb CD! I've always been a fan of Depeche Mode, but was very disappointed with their last album (Exciter). This has some spunk to it and makes you want to dance! I just love this CD and continue to play it over and over. I enjoyed it right off the bat, but it grows on you more and more as you listen to it. 'Precious' is one of my favorite tracks from the CD, but altogether I can't find one song on this CD that I don't like. Great job my fellow guys from Basildon, Essex (that's England, you know)! I highly recommend this CD to any Depeche Mode fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first heard the song Precious I knew I had to look into this album to find any other songs that sounded even better.Some were but not all. A good album no doubt.
Guest More than 1 year ago
15 years have passed since Violator, and a lot has happened in popular music since then. Musical trends, and musical tastes, have changed every hour on the hour in a drastic way, up to the point that “Precious”, the gorgeous and very danceable first single from “Playing the Angel”, has been lingering on Billboard’s top 25 Modern Rock Tracks Chart for quite a while. If my memory serves me well, chances were that rock fans hated Depeche Mode 15 years ago. And with good reasons. Besides being a pure Techno Pop album, Violator was an abysmal record, a classic example of a washed out, repeated ad nauseam formula. Given these circumstances, how could a group stand strong for 24 years as a recording unit?. The secret lies in delivering the goods, in taking risks and in reinventing the sound, a necessary evil since the original fan base of any band dwindles as it grows up. Besides delivering the goods, Depeche Mode started to take risks and reinvent their sound with 1993’s “Songs of Faith and Devotion”, their follow up to “Violator”, and the first in a series of mature, brilliant albums that broadened the group’s musical scope and asked of the listener to dance less and to listen more carefully. In this sense, “Playing The Angel” is a totally a post “Violator” record. Sure, the band members sound reinvigorated on this album and make music with the same vitality of kids half their age. On outstanding tracks like “John the Revelator”, “Suffer Well” and “Lilian”, they deliver their sturdiest and fastest dance rhythms in ages. But that’s about it. Guitars (an instrument frequently used since “Songs of Faith and Devotion”) are present in several “Playing The Angel” tunes, including the aforementioned “Precious”. Industrial rock elements (a novelty from 1997’s “Ultra”) are also abundant, particularly in “A Pain than I’m Used to”, the terrific opening track of “Playing The Angel”, and possibly the loudest Depeche Mode song to date. Ethereal melodies, sparse arrangements, slow tempos and lighter lyrics (the main elements that characterized 2001’s “Exciter”) are all present in “I Want it All”, a superb, beautiful ballad. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that these guys have been listening to fellow Brits Radiohead lately. The robot like vocals on “Nothing’s Impossible” (a deliciously sinister song) wouldn’t have been out of place on either “Kid A” or “Amnesiac”. So do the moody, dissonant melodies of “The Darkest Star”, the finest track on “Playing the Angel”. Quite simply, nothing in Depeche Mode’s previous repertoire sounds like it. It’s the grand finale for the group’s strongest effort to date, an album perfectly fit for the 21st century.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It starts as sharp and poised electro-rock... but then things go off track. The songs are too long, and the dynamics flop awkwardly between loud and soft, fast and slow. This does not serve the typically ponderous, overwrought lyrics well. I wish DM would stop masquerading as a rock-'n'-roll band, and get back to what they do best: the taut, twisted synthpop that we last heard circa Violator.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first I thought this was an OK album, but I decided to keep it in my car CD player and haven't been able to take it out! Love the album! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Its a puzzling of attitude, mood, and funk. You listen to the music. And you may find yourself waiting for the songs to take off, or do something more. But only two of them do. "Precious", and "Lilian" for me stood out. The rest seemed to have an experimentation of sounds going through them. That lends more to a fragmenting that takes away from the music. One word comes to mind after listening to this CD. Abstract.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago