It’s a well known secret that I normally refer to Depeche Mode as the most overrated band in the world. Admittedly they have released a handful of great songs through the years (noticeable Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again), but since their best effort Violator in 1990 they have managed to release just two good songs (It’s No Good and Precious, the first single of Playing The Angel).
Modern technology (a.k.a. file sharing) has given me the opportunity to listen to the album in full length a few days before its official release.
For my part the quality of the first single from the album has let me build up some uncharacteristic expectations to a Depeche Mode album, because normally I would never expect a new release by the band to be anything but mediocre. However Precious took me by surprise and there is little doubt that I will rank it among the best songs released in 2005, when the time has come for making such a list. So I forgot my aversion towards the band and ordered a ticket for their concert and put Playing The Angel on my list of albums I’m looking forward to.
So the big question now is whether the rest of the album is up to par or if it is just another “typical” Depeche Mode release.
It starts quite pleasantly with opening track A Pain That I’m Used To, which gives me a small glimpse of hope, but unfortunately this track does not set the standard of the album.
Listening to the rest of it won't leave you with any doubt that this is a Depeche Mode album, because more or less all of the tracks follow the typical formula used by the band with either pumping beats or pompous hymns. But only Precious (obviously) and the second track from the end; Lilian; actually make you bother to check the name of the track (because there is an outside chance that you want to listen to them again). The rest just melts together and is sadly quite unmemorable stuff, which easily could have been recorded 12 years ago (or some other time) and added as b-sides to any single of Songs Of Faith And Devotion, because they aren't any better or worse than the songs from that album.
Hardcore fans (still plenty of those around) shouldn’t be disappointed though, because their really isn’t much new under the sun here, which they for some reason seem to fancy!
Sadly this also means that the boys remain stuck in a kind of creative drought, which after all those years still seems to be haunting them.
Sorry guys – I’m not going to buy the album!
MP3's of Precious and Lilian can be found via a PLAGUE of ANGELS.
At lunch I read a review of the album. Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten hands out 5 stars (out of 6). That is at least 2 stars too many in my opinion!
Gaffa also gives the album 5 stars. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm missing something?