Playing The Angel

  • Record Label: Reprise
  • Release Date: Oct 18, 2005
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 209 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 5 out of 209

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  1. Feb 9, 2013
    10
    With hindsight being 20-20, and this review being written 7-1/2 years after the released of this album, I can write, without any hesitation, that Playing the Angel is my favorite Depeche Mode album and that is saying a lot because I am a completely devoted fan of the band since I first heard them in 1986. Playing the Angel is a different kind of Depeche Mode album and it would be unfairWith hindsight being 20-20, and this review being written 7-1/2 years after the released of this album, I can write, without any hesitation, that Playing the Angel is my favorite Depeche Mode album and that is saying a lot because I am a completely devoted fan of the band since I first heard them in 1986. Playing the Angel is a different kind of Depeche Mode album and it would be unfair to try and compare it with any other album, except maybe Violator. This album is so good that it has been the staple of my musical diet since the day it was released. What sets this album apart from all others are two secret ingredients never before present in a Depeche Mode album. First is a unique and permeating throbbing that flows from song to song and ties them all together, and secondly David Gahan contributed songs to the album, and not just any songs, a couple of fantastic songs. Individually, nearly every song is excellent beginning with the explosive opening of A 'Pain That I'm Used To' right down to the last note of the last song 'Darkest Star'. This album is far greater though than the sum of its individually outstanding parts, and that is what sets this album apart. 'Suffer Well' is my personal favorite, and this song has replaced 'In Your Room' from 'Songs of Faith and Devotion' as my all-time favorite Depeche Mode song. I find it very ironic that 'Suffer Well' (written by David Gahan) has become my favorite DM song of all time because it is the first song written by anybody but Martin Gore in 25 years, and I have long considered Martin Gore to be among the greatest songwriters of all time. This album excels on all levels and there are six standout tracks that help give this album an unparalleled timelessness and longevity: John the Revelator, Suffer Well, Sinner in Me, Precious, Nothing's Impossible, and Darkest Star. Expand
  2. Nando
    Oct 19, 2005
    3
    What are you people talking about? This CD is so weak. I was and I emphasize was the biggest Mode fan around up to the early 90's. After Violator, they should've called it quits. This new album is terrible. It is boring and shows no energy or originality. Come on people, it doesn't even compare to their previous work. Its only saving grace is "Precious." Everything else What are you people talking about? This CD is so weak. I was and I emphasize was the biggest Mode fan around up to the early 90's. After Violator, they should've called it quits. This new album is terrible. It is boring and shows no energy or originality. Come on people, it doesn't even compare to their previous work. Its only saving grace is "Precious." Everything else shows no indication of the talent and vocal power of Gahan. What happened to my favorite band? I hate to say this, but call it quits boys. I am truly a huge Mode fan and can't take the disappointment any longer. Expand
  3. ludovicf
    Oct 18, 2005
    9
    This is their best work since Music For The Masses !!! I'm not an hysterik fan and i love all kind of music ( rock, electro, pop, trip hop, classic etc...) The futur will be great with Depeche Mode ! Great record !
  4. jothaxej
    Nov 1, 2005
    10
    This is why I still love Depeche Mode after all these years.
  5. heinec
    Nov 6, 2005
    10
    this is just so dm as dm can be. i love the feel and sound. every dm fan will love it, maby even some new listeners here and there..
  6. daved
    Oct 20, 2005
    10
    a classic electrosoul cd. Never boring, never repetitive, lyrically brilliant. album of 2005.
  7. AndyE
    Oct 20, 2005
    10
    great
  8. MarkA
    Oct 27, 2005
    7
    Easily the best album since Faith and Devotion (but that's not saying much since there's been only 2 others, not including the "best of's"). The first 5 tracks really stand out. Great album for DM fans though.
  9. f_ii
    Jan 30, 2009
    9
    Just cool, amazing album.
  10. PeterS
    Nov 15, 2005
    10
    Mode's new album is nothing short of a masterpiece. Their opening show in Tampa was unbelievable. Tight music with vocals that combine and take you on a journey of sight & sound that is almost unmatched in music today.
  11. RolandoL
    Nov 16, 2005
    9
    Amazing, back to what they stood for. Singing about life's sad side. The truth about what can and will wrong with many people's lives.
  12. EleannaD
    Nov 1, 2005
    9
    a mature evolution of Gore's genius
  13. GarethL
    Nov 2, 2005
    8
    After the largely disappointing Exciter, this is a great return to form. I have to agree with the critics in saying this is their best effort since Violator. Go buy it!
  14. BrentT
    Nov 6, 2005
    9
    As soon as I heard songs from this new album, I knew it would impress. Despite the fact that Depeche Mode hasn't had a fresh new album in some time, they keep the same catchy and mysterious tunes that can be compared to those older ones that made them famous, such as those on Violator. Their new production techniques make the album sound even more unique.
  15. HenrikA
    Oct 18, 2005
    10
    One of their absolute best
  16. JanR
    Oct 18, 2005
    10
    great album! they are back!
  17. EricR
    Oct 19, 2005
    8
    Very strong 1st 5 or 6 tracks. I feel it is a little weak in the middle buyt ends very well with tracks 10-13 sealing the deal nicely. Strongly Recommend it.
  18. JoeC
    Oct 19, 2005
    10
    My heart stopped when I first heard that DM was working on a new album. My boyfriend Rubin and I are lifelong fans, and just hearing the new material brings back many happy memories (thanks Rubin!)....
  19. CalvinW
    Oct 22, 2005
    4
    I feel that this album gives listeners 4 songs at best that are listenable. "A Pian That I'm Used To", "Macro", and "Precious" are basic DM materials referenced from stuff we have heard before. "Damaged People" is really the only true songwriting tid bit that gives DM fans anything new to hear. Overall, like "Exciter", there is decent production; however, I fail to see any strength I feel that this album gives listeners 4 songs at best that are listenable. "A Pian That I'm Used To", "Macro", and "Precious" are basic DM materials referenced from stuff we have heard before. "Damaged People" is really the only true songwriting tid bit that gives DM fans anything new to hear. Overall, like "Exciter", there is decent production; however, I fail to see any strength in songwriting and timeless tunes.Let's face reality, and realize that they NEED Adam Wilder back. He tends to lend DM great masterpieces that pushed Gore and Gahan further. I try not to live in the past, but I defy anyone to say that "Exciter" or "Playing The Angels" best three songs on either album even match up or compare to half as great of melodies we heard on "Violater" or "Music for the Masses". My Breakdown. "John The Revelator", "Lilian" and "Nothing's Impossible" are all disposable DM works. I don't have a clue as to what type of songwriting or lyrics were going on in those tracks. They just seemed packaged as if to tell the world, here is some songs to passify you until the next batch of songs. I really enjoy DM, but they really need to stop being lazy and start focusing on good sound songwriting. Songs 3, 4, and 12 are okay, but I can honestly say that I wouldn't miss these tracks if I never heard them again. I expect more from these guys... Rolling Stones is being generous on their score as far as I'm concerned. "They're milking us!!! They're milking us!!!" Expand
  20. DavidH
    Oct 22, 2005
    10
    The addition of Dave's writing into the mix adds inspiration and new life to the band and keeps Martin on his toes. The analog factor is nice and hoping so desperately that some of the analog synths travel on tour with them and get some triggering live. The synthi, arp, jupiter, Juno, moog, oberheim, hoping and hoping that its not all pro tools audio we hear on tour and that its some The addition of Dave's writing into the mix adds inspiration and new life to the band and keeps Martin on his toes. The analog factor is nice and hoping so desperately that some of the analog synths travel on tour with them and get some triggering live. The synthi, arp, jupiter, Juno, moog, oberheim, hoping and hoping that its not all pro tools audio we hear on tour and that its some real gritty live triggering. I feel the presence of Alan Wilder back in the wings, lingering and hoping to step back to do some work with the band. His polish is something that could bring back the Violator days gone by. Great listen. Expand
  21. coryh
    Oct 22, 2005
    10
    rolling stone is such a bunch of want to be emo kids its a embarresment, stick to my chemical romance, this is a powerful cd, and it has some great songs that make you remember why there truly standing the test of time, 25 years .. wow
  22. BrianK
    Oct 23, 2005
    6
    The first half of the cd is spectacular. Truly the best DM since Violator. Then, it goes awry in a wash of down-tempo pretentiousness. Bad down-tempo pretentiousness. Thank god for Moenia, who have released the best 'Depeche Mode-style' albums of the last 8 years and in Spanish, no less!
  23. Jemma
    Oct 24, 2005
    9
    It isn't my favorite Depeche Mode album, but it really refreshed my memory as to why I fell in love with this band in the first place. I can't wait to attend their concert!
  24. VinceC
    Oct 24, 2005
    7
    PTA does not rank among the best DM albums, but it is their best album since the departure of Alan Wilder over ten years ago. That said, there's nothing particularly groundbreaking on it, there's some filler (such as the pointless instrumental Introspectre), and the second half of the album fades a bit after a strong start. On the plus side, Gahan proves he can write a good tune PTA does not rank among the best DM albums, but it is their best album since the departure of Alan Wilder over ten years ago. That said, there's nothing particularly groundbreaking on it, there's some filler (such as the pointless instrumental Introspectre), and the second half of the album fades a bit after a strong start. On the plus side, Gahan proves he can write a good tune (albeit with a couple of co-songwriters), Gore proves he can continue to write good ones, and Fletch is Fletch. This album is NOT a 10, but most long-time DM fans won't be disappointed. Expand
  25. YossiR
    Oct 25, 2005
    8
    Generally, a good album. It lacks the energy DM lost after "Songs of faith and devotion", but it's not as dead as "Exciter". Some songs there do remind the classic sound of DM ("Lillian" could be a track on Music for the masses and you wouldn't know). Somehow the melodies in this album are not as they were before, and the singing is a little too screamish; but all in all it isa Generally, a good album. It lacks the energy DM lost after "Songs of faith and devotion", but it's not as dead as "Exciter". Some songs there do remind the classic sound of DM ("Lillian" could be a track on Music for the masses and you wouldn't know). Somehow the melodies in this album are not as they were before, and the singing is a little too screamish; but all in all it isa new Depeche Mode album, and it sounds like one as well. Expand
  26. mikeT
    Oct 27, 2005
    10
    I think that this album is a lot more akin to their older stuff than exciter was. Both were great albums, but this album kicks major ass! Precious, john the revelator, suffer well, lilian, a pain that i'm used to all kick major booty! Better than all of this saturated rap crap currently playing everywhere.....enough already! Buy this album!
  27. NicolaiP
    Oct 27, 2005
    4
    Only 3 quality tracks, and the mastering is HARSH. Louder and harsher doesn't mean edgier!
  28. Vail
    Oct 29, 2005
    8
    Being a fan since 85, I was a worried after listening to Exciter; by far my least favorite Dmode collection. Thank God for this inspired and edgy sounding CD. Since the departure of Wilder, it seems the band is in the midst of rediscovering itself. PTA is a very strong effort. The components that make Dmode great are all here. Precious is probably one of the most personnel pieces Mart has Being a fan since 85, I was a worried after listening to Exciter; by far my least favorite Dmode collection. Thank God for this inspired and edgy sounding CD. Since the departure of Wilder, it seems the band is in the midst of rediscovering itself. PTA is a very strong effort. The components that make Dmode great are all here. Precious is probably one of the most personnel pieces Mart has written in years. The first few listens really grabbed me. I think the lyrics speak for itself. There has been a lot of talk about Suffer Well as being a standout track. I don't know. It comes across somewhat bland to me. Nothing's Impossible is by far the best out of the three tracks from Dave. The Sinner in Me strikes me as a true to form Dmode track; very nicely layered with a superb soundscape. All in all this effort is winning and shows if anything, Dmode is still an exciting and creative force. Expand
  29. stefanoc
    Oct 31, 2005
    9
    Amazingly fresh, incredible modernization of a classic sound, great vocals, compact album conception, is this a brand new band or what? they are a cult. They are unique legacy. Tthey are a passionate devotion to quality music and intelligent tunes. Fav tune? That shouting feast Jhon the revelator: energetic, classic, modern, succint, powerful. Nothing is impossible with these guys, even Amazingly fresh, incredible modernization of a classic sound, great vocals, compact album conception, is this a brand new band or what? they are a cult. They are unique legacy. Tthey are a passionate devotion to quality music and intelligent tunes. Fav tune? That shouting feast Jhon the revelator: energetic, classic, modern, succint, powerful. Nothing is impossible with these guys, even producing such great music after 25 years. Thank you depeche, u made my day one of hope and pleasure. Expand
  30. elo_rey
    Oct 30, 2005
    10
    DM doing their best again! perfect pop-synth songs, love the sound of these old sinthethizers.
Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Like the best Depeche Mode, almost everything on the album will make an initial wowing impact while remaining layered enough in subtle details to surprise and thrill with repeated listens.
  2. Billboard
    80
    Revels in dirty guitars and fuzzy distortion while maintaining Depeche Mode's familiar electronic sound. [22 Oct 2005]
  3. Filter
    86
    It's got all the allure of classic D-Mode, but there's that lingering hint of taking oneself a tad too seriously. [#17, p.97]