The opening screeches of ‘A Pain That I'm Used To’ introduce the album in a forceful way, before smoothly flowing into a smooth and soulful opening. ‘Join the Revelator’ is a gritty electric track that sees Dave Gahan at his best, giving a bit of a ‘101’ feel. ‘Suffer Well’ is upbeat and full of energy, helped with Martin Gore’s backup. There is an eerie feel to ‘The Sinner In Me’ with the trademarks high pitched tones, gritty guitar riffs and tripped out effects. The first single, ‘Precious’, is an addictive production due to its welcoming vocals and nice melodic touches.
Martin Gore has always chipped in with fantastic tracks in previous albums, with ‘Home’ in particular coming to mind, but its his first solo input with ‘Macro’ that is just as equally impressive. ‘I Want It All’ is one of the smoother and laid back moments in the album with slowed beats and mellow vocals making it a sweet production while the altered haunting vocals of ‘Nothing's Impossible’ provide an undeniable highlight of this album. ‘Introspectre’ is a nice instrumental that takes place at an interesting part of the album as it starts to come to a close. ‘Damaged People’ sees Martin turn in another emotive piece of work while ‘Lillian’ turns the pace up a bit with a seductive energised track that again provides another highlight. The delicate pace and interesting sounds of ‘The Darkest Star’ conclude the album in a relaxing way.
This is undeniably a fantastic return to action for Depeche Mode. In a day where popular albums seem to lack any depth or emotional substance, ‘Playing the Angel’ is a welcome relief with 12 fantastically crafted productions forming an album that seems to be adrift of any real weakness or low points. It has a wide range of typical Depeche Mode characteristics; it’s dark at times, eerie at others. It has a good range of electronic influences as well as the more gritty rock sounds, but most of the time its quite energetic and uplifting. As is often the case with a Depeche Mode album, these sounds will live on with longevity, and as is also the case, we can now expect a host of hopefully top class electronic remixes. If you are a Depeche Mode fan then I’m pretty sure you probably already have heard the high quality nature of this album, but if not, then I cannot praise this album enough to you.