Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode

Playing The Angel

Sire/Reprise/Mute

After several mediocre releases following the departure of sound sculptor mastermind Alan Wilder, Depeche Mode fire on all cylinders with their latest effort. Playing The Angel finds the British trio reenergized and more focused than ever. The album’s opener, “A Pain That I’m Used To,” kicks things off with pounding beats. Reminiscent of their earlier work, this track sees Depeche Mode at their peak. The gospel-inspired “John The Revelator” follows with brooding bass and vocal treatments of the highest order. An infectious rhythm will have you singing along without warning. Possibly the album’s strongest track, “Suffer Well” takes hold and never lets go. The guitar work here resembles Martin Gore’s work on the 1987 gem Music For The Masses. Throbbing percussion plays alongside Dave Gahan’s passionate vocals. The only downside is its short duration. It will remind some of “Route 66,” from their 101 Live DVD. Turn this one up to maximum volume and get strapped in.

The slower paced “Sinner in Me” sneaks in next with an eerie backdrop. The keyboard programming is outstanding and blends perfectly with Gahan’s moving vocals. “Precious,” the album’s first single, is a smooth track written back in the Violator-era. It’s a mid-tempo song that engulfs you while letting your imagination run wild. A more experimental side is found on “Macro,” where Gore takes the lead vocal spot. A bizarre melody that seems to go nowhere brings us to a climactic chorus. Space-age bleeps and a hypnotic groove abound on “I Want it All,” with Gahan bearing his innermost soul. The sonic elements here are an aural orgasm. Repeated listens will divulge hidden surprises at every turn. “Nothing’s Impossible” swings into action next with thematic results. Sinister bass lines and Gore’s signature guitar compliment the musical soundscape nicely. Skipping a few nonessentials, “Lilian” shakes the walls with potent rhythms and attention to every sonic detail. As with “Suffer Well,” listeners will wish the duration of “Lilian” were longer. This is a strong dance remix contender.

Finishing off the album is “The Darkest Star,” the album’s darkest piece. It oozes with energy and melancholy. This one reminds me of their 1986 masterpiece Black Celebration. With Ben Hillier at the production helm, Depeche Mode’s best has been brought back into the spotlight. Anyone left wanting more from their previous two releases should embrace Playing The Angel. This is easily Depeche Mode’s most satisfying and invigorating material in years.

Sire: www.sire.com • Mute: www.mute.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Summerland
    Summerland

    In rural England, a cranky woman bonds with and evacuee boy and uncovers a strange connection to her past.

  • Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations
    Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations

    These geniuses of early comedy finally get the presentation they are due in this Blu-ray edition.

  • Four-Letter Words
    Four-Letter Words

    No need to worry about offending delicate sensibilities with this playlist. We’re not talking about profanity, so just take the title at face value.

  • A Genesis In My Bed
    A Genesis In My Bed

    Former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett shares his life story in his story in an engaging and honest memoir. Reading his story feels like hanging out with a friend who’s interested in sharing how he felt living these experiences.

  • The Jayhawks
    The Jayhawks

    XOXO (Sham/Thirty Tigers). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • 18 to Party
    18 to Party

    When you’re in 8th grade, sneaking into a bar is way cooler than it is when you’re 40.

  • Adam
    Adam

    A pregnant woman finds a home in Casablanca.

  • 2020 on Fire
    2020 on Fire

    Sound Salvation takes on current events with a playlist addressing the current fight for racial and social justice in America and the battles playing out in the streets in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

  • Pokey Lafarge
    Pokey Lafarge

    Rock Bottom Rhapsody (New West Records). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • Landfall
    Landfall

    Cecilia Aldarondo takes a look at Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

From the Archives