Playing The Angel - Depeche Mode
Playing The Angel Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 196 Ratings

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  • Summary: Borrowing a page from late-80s to early-90s DM in terms of sound (and possibly even quality), the Ben Hillier-produced 'Angel' is the first Depeche Mode album to feature some David Gahan-penned songs in addition to the usual assortment of Martin Gore tracks.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. 100
    Not only is Depeche Mode virtually indestructible, the pioneering British synth-pop group also keeps getting better.
  2. 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.
  3. 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]
  4. Some may say it doesn't move Depeche Mode forward a great deal; I say I don't give a damn, it's a real treat and I'll have some more, please.
  5. Revels in dirty guitars and fuzzy distortion while maintaining Depeche Mode's familiar electronic sound. [22 Oct 2005]
  6. Their most self-assured and accessible release in over a decade. [28 Oct 2005, p.83]
  7. 40
    The second half drops off badly--the band seem to think that the tonic for a weak lyric is to slow the tempo to a crawl. [Nov 2005, p.130]

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 4 out of 134
  1. Feb 9, 2013
    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 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. AshleeS
    Oct 26, 2005
    First two singles are amazing. Sure the songs sound dated compared to the nasal banter of what the disney channel force feeds to young kids! Hats off to DM for keeping the faith. Reward Ashlee Simpson with endless media play and dump DM to the back of that rag of a magazine. I won't mind not hearing or seeing DM anywhere but my ipod. Expand
  3. Bulky
    Nov 29, 2005
    PTA is awesome! It's not Violator Part II as some DM fans have lamented but who wants it to be. Had DM kept on doing the same old thing year in year out they would have lost their loyal fan base years ago and they would have ended up becoming a sad parody of the great band they used to be (Yes I'm talking to you Rolling Stones). DM do something fresh, different and rewarding with each record but yet still manage to sound distinctly like DM. PTA is no different. It might not be their best record but then again it just might be. Time will tell. DM fans, just rejoice because they have released a new album which will hopefully not be their last. New lfans, do yourselves a favour and go back through the DM catalogue and find out what you have been missing out on for the last 25 years. Expand
  4. RenéL
    Oct 18, 2005
    Best DM album for many years. The fans have been longing for more pace and edge - and the band delivers. Biggest surprise must be Dave Gahans songwriting, which has improved significantly since Paper Monsters. Expand
  5. DexStud
    Jul 29, 2009
    Stellar entry from synth-pop's greatest guys. Covers many genres including: alt rock, dance, and, pop. Once again proves Depeche Mode as one of the greatest bands of all time. Expand
  6. BrianE
    Oct 28, 2005
    Back to basics and a much better offering than Exiter, which didn't exite me at all needless to say (save for 2 good tracks). Strong vocals by Gahan on "John the Revelator", and gotta love the 80's feel of "Lillian" and "A Pain that I'm Used To". I can't stand people comparing this album to violator in a negative way because it not about trying to re-capture Violator. It's simply an album that shows Mode can still produce great music midway through their second decade. Martin has a lot of music left in him, and Dave ain't too shabby either. All in all a refreshing and potent addition to the DM catalog. Expand
  7. time
    Oct 26, 2007
    I freaking hate this band and any other of those goofy synth rock Richard Blade douche bags that passed around nothing but crap in the 80s. Thank God for Sonic Youth, the Pixies and the Mary Chain. This genre should have never made a comeback. Fortunately it was so obnoxious that the 90s is making an early comeback. Shoegaze killed synth and that's why it's my favorite genre. This was glorified garbage and nobody took it seriously. If they're so dark and gloomy they should have ended it all in their heyday and given up on this bullshit that passes of as music. Expand

See all 134 User Reviews