DEPECHE MODE Playing the angel review by Uzless-N
All I ever wanted \ All I ever needed \ Is a good distortion tool!!!
Here's "Playing the Angel" the last work from one of the most popular "electro-pop" band, Depeche Mode...that's ok guys the 80's are over and, even though italian hair-style still looks like it, Depeche Mode tell us they are much far from songs like "I just can't get enough" which used frighten my ears in compilations like "One Shot 80".
In my nightmares I wake up in sweat screaming "Please, no more chorus basses and Korg synths, please!!!!". Dave Gahan and friends have already taken off from this stuff with their 2001 album "Exciter" in which I could find some attempts to work a little more on sounds.
And, as it comes to sounds, this album really gets the point...You can hear a lot of "weird tunes" from industrial heritage...yeah...cool...actually, I think they're the same old stuff but with a little distortion. If you pay a little attention, you could find out all the old 80's synths featured in their old songs, filtered with a post-distortion and some filter to make them "even cooler".
Anyway all Depeche Mode fans could crucifie me for this, so I just say it's in my opinion...(Martin, Martin, Martin...just tell us the truth!!). What is more, my ears faced a very dark and dull-atmosphere, sad and existentialist album, featuring so little glimp of hope, it's hard to think Dave Gahan is living a happy life at the moment...Except for a pair of tracks, 1, "A Pain I'm Used To, and 5 "Precious", in which there's an attempt to recreate a new "Enjoy The Silence", with tasty choruses, merry rhythyms and that old, clean, newbie-style guitar from Martin Gore, the complete work is an ode to depression.
A bunch of tracks have a little more groove, just not to commit suicide with your earphones on. "John The Revelator",Track number 2, features some kind of rhithyim'n'blues harmony and melody, melted into industrial stuff and distorted synths. "Suffer Well", maybe the song I prefer, even though the dull atmosphere it creates, is kinda cute...the chorus definitelly works and harmony is much more mature than 80's Depeche Mode. Everything takes off into space and flies through a metaphysichal aura as it comes to chorus and brings you to mind something more than just "throwing yerself off the window". About the rest, my music taste found itself beside an ambient-industrial-pop essay, in which a little bit of gothic and some sort of 80's dark-wave still remain, just to remind us they are Depeche Mode...Songs like "The SInner In Me", "Macro" and "Nothing's impossible" are not that easy to listen to, because melodies are quite obscure and all the sound is quite heavy to bear, giving a suffocating atmosphere of dusk.
"Damaged People" and "The Darkest Star" are even heavier and hard to assimilate as pop stuff. Furthermore, as it comes to arrangement and samples, being always the same, I even found it hard to get differences in songs. "I Want It All" lighted some hope in my heart, with much more easy-to-hear-tunes but it never gets into the right mood to become a "song to remember" and everything ends into a choir singing "woah, I'm really down, ain't I?". And "Lilian" too! Chorus can't creep into your head and you start wondering wether Dave Gahan and sons just ran off chords to compose their songs without hearing fans' comments like "This song really sounds like...".
All in all this album is quite good and the final mix really rocks. All the sounds you can hear trigger off the work made behind them. The quality is surelly high and, for people used to depression and depressive music style, should be perfect to...ehm...get depressed. And, in the end, if you are a D.M. fan, you can't miss this album, because it represents their new way of percepting and figuring out music. So, if you promise me you won't do anything to harm yourself, you should give it a shot, at least just to learn "how to use a distortion plug-in"
Nicola "Uzless-N" Pilotto