5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The return to form many reviews suggest...,
This review is from: Playing the Angel (Audio CD)
'playing the angel' is everything a longtime Mode-fan could have wished for; 1997's 'Ultra' was inconsistent, while 2001's 'Exciter' had a great production, but was lacking in both arrangements and songwriting. It seemed the Mode were having problems without Alan Wilder, though there were decent songs amid the filler: 'Surrender', 'It's No Good','Home','Sweetest Condition','I Feel Loved', 'The Love Thieves'...
It's very possible 'playing the angel' will become a 5-star chestnut, I guess I'll have to get to know it better...having listened to it several times this week, I'm feeling good about it! The best Mode LP since 'Violator', to which it's a relative - I like 'Songs of Faith & Devotion', but the mix/production (somewhere between 'Achtung Baby' and grunge) never worked for me. 'John the Revelator' here shows how 'SOFAD' should have sounded. The excellent 'Exciter'-tour, Fletch's record-label and the solo-releases by Gahan and Gore have rejuvinated the band - producer Ben Hillier (Doves, Elbow) was a wise choice. The Mode don't need the $$$£££, they could just release another best of and tour Greatest Hits...but clearly they wanted to deliver...
The Mode still stand out, a lot of their peers aren't as exciting - REM hobble on, U2 have regressed to their 80s-sound, Madonna is forever fashionably patchy, The Human League did a not bad LP few bought, Simple Minds sound like 'Midnight to Midnight' Psychedelic Furs, Soft Cell made a so-so return, Echo & the Bunnymen are half the band they used to be, & New Order are as undependable as ever! There are a few examples of acts from that era still making decent records - the last Cure album was great, David Sylvian's Nine Horses-project is excellent, and Kate Bush is always welcome in my house! The Mode have made an album that was worth the effort, as good as it could be, and one that sounds fine against recent releases by Goldfrapp, The Killers, The Bravery & Moby...
The album? - well I have to get to know the songs better, but the songs that stand out at present are 'the sinner in me', upcoming single 'a pain that i'm used to', 'John the Revelator' (based on an old blues song, so continuing that line back to 'Personal Jesus', 'I Feel You' & 'Dream On': Robert Johnson vs. Kraftwerk). Single 'Precious' balances the anthemic with electronic subtlety, and Gahan's co-compositions are better than those on his solo album that didn't appeal much the time I listened to it. Gore's lead vocals on 'macro' and 'damaged people' are excellent and his best leads on a Mode LP since 'SOFAD.'
'playing the angel' is Martin Gore's 'Blood on the Tracks', like Dylan's famous LP and Sylvian's 'Blemish' it reacts to divorce. Pain has always been part of the Mode's world I suppose. A highlight of 2005...