The first new album from Depeche Mode in four years, its first since 2001's gold and Top 10 Exciter, Playing The Angel is quintessential Depeche Mode-hi-tech electronic pop with enormous hooks and yet faster paced, more urgent than recent albums. The … see full wiki
What can I say Depeche Mode is timeless band! I have read several reviews stating that this album is throwback to the 1980s and doesn't sound contemporary at all. I am not sure about all that, but the DM did use some analogue equipment in the recording of "Playing the Angel", which gives it an aged sound. The opening seconds of "Suffer Well" portray this beautifully.
I am not sure if this is the "darkest album" Depeche Mode has ever recorded, but it definitely has a sullen, ominous, hard and deep feel to it. I suppose the "darkest album" comparison comes from the album recorded prior to PTA, Exciter. Exciter was much softer, mellow and ambient in comparison to PTA. I also think that the solo work of Gore and Gahan (recorded during the gap of Exciter and PTA) are also a frame of reference when judging this album.
As for the songs, they are stellar. They are both modern and retro, a combination which has made DM a genre all their own. "Precious", "A Pain That I Am Use To" and "John the Revelator", amazing songs. However, one of my favorite tunes on the album is "I Want It All", which was written by Gahan. It almost has a "Sister of Night"-"Freelove" feel to it.
I find it interesting and welcoming that David Gahan penned three of the twelve songs on this album. I think they are all solid songs and give the band a refreshing twist. I am not sure why there is this sense of trepidation when it comes to Gahan writing songs. It appears that Gahan should be discredited because Martin Gore has written all the songs for over twenty years. Most people need to remember that Gore didn't start out writing the songs, Vince Clark did. Consequently, the songs and fans adjusted to Gore's writing and the rest is history. David Gahan has been a major part of the band's success and was the one who gave the band its name. After all, both Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher welcome David Gahan writing songs. So if the band is cool with it, so should the fans!
As for this deluxe CD/DVD, I think it is pretty cool and worth the money if you are a huge DM fan. The DVD has the video for "Precious", a mini documentary on the recording of the album, a bare version-video for "Clean", some photos and the entire album on 5.1 and Stereo -DTS 5.1 (24bit) -Dolby Digital and surround sound. I have heard many people complaining that the DVD was "weak" and "should have more on it". I can recall the old days when a CD was just a CD, no bonus DVD was included. Therefore, I was very pleased.
In conclusion, I was at the first performance of the "Touring the Angel" concert in Tampa last November. This was my third time at a DM show and I have no reservations stating that these guys are still awesome. In addition to the fact that all the new songs translated amazingly live. In a time where music is so superficial and soft, I hope DM is around for another twenty plus years!!!