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E. Burle (Cape Town, South Africa)
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Playing The Angel
Playing The Angel
Preis: EUR 9,98

3.0 von 5 Sternen On a par with Exciter . . ., 16. November 2005
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Playing The Angel (Audio CD)
I think the production is alright – sometimes very good, and sometimes a bit tinny. They were clearly going for a different feel and mostly it suites the songs, except for the decision to revive the plastic-sounding goth noise of Exciter’s “The Dead Of Night” in an attempt to lend “A Pain That I’m Used To” some sort of appropriate drama. It’s still clear, though, that since Alan Wilder’s departure the band haven’t managed to recapture generally and to the same degree the unique sonic richness and depth that was used to match and flesh out the songwriting while he was on board. Also, of the post Wilder albums, I would say that Ultra is the best produced.
In terms of the songs, for me those that stand out most after repeated listening are “Suffer Well”, “Precious” and “Nothing’s Impossible”. They have the most emotional impact. “Suffer Well”, additionally, has a highly singable chorus and enjoyably crunchy guitar that moves it forwards nicely. With “Precious”, the openness and stark production work to great effect to foreground the nakedness of the emotion in the lyrics. It’s catchy and has the substance to give it staying power, unlike “Lilian” which, while catchy and one of the better songs on the album’s second half, is eventually annoying to hear and could have been a b-side. “Nothing’s Impossible” is a grower. It is darkly optimistic and has a 'we’re in the gutter but looking up at the stars' vibe so the dark and 'twinkly' production suits it well. While it never gets off the ground in a big way, also because of Dave's filtered singing, the submerged monochrome quality is a large part of its appeal. “The Sinner In Me”, while not covering any new ground lyrically, is very enjoyable in terms of the sonic detail which drives the song and gives it it’s edgy atmosphere.
On Exciter, too, there are only a few songs that I find myself going back to: 'Dream On' (great lyrics and properly finished unlike other Exciter songs); 'When The Body Speaks' (sustained meditative quality); 'Comatose' (wonderfully experimental sound texture and nice chorus despite awful verse lyrics); 'I Feel Loved' (slight but definitely upbeat); 'I Am You' (nice idea & production; strangely addictive). These songs are just about enough to make one forgive the often weak and repetitive lyrics, the endless soulful crooning meets boy-band pop, the flatness of the blips and bleeps and the dreary overall feel.
PTA’s weak points are that again, as with Exciter, some of the songs are compromised by either patchy or excessively self-indulgent lyrics (the Gore-sung ballads are a prime example.) Thankfully though, the tempo has been stepped up this time around and the songwriting is generally more accessible and some of the fighting spirit that characterized parts of Ultra and SOFAD is also back in the picture. For such reasons I initially thought that PTA was much better than Exciter, but in terms of overall album quality I think they’re pretty much equal despite their differences. The problem this time around is also that there are more than a few stylistic echoes of past material and it doesn’t really cover new ground thematically. That said, “Precious” is probably the best single they’ve released since some of the singles that were released off Ultra.
Essentially it’s down to the songs and ever since Exciter, when it comes to listening to Depeche Mode albums in their entirety, for me it’s been a case of diminishing returns though I also think they have put out some fantastic albums. Take a song like “John The Revelator” for instance. It’s fine – a catchy, brooding stomper, and the aggressive vocal style works for me too, as does the clever revival of the gospel feel of SOFAD in the song’s chorus. However, in the end, it’s not as skillful or thought-provoking as songs they've done before when venturing into similar territory like “Personal Jesus” or “Blasphemous Rumours” plus it’s also a bit of a rant if you're not in the mood for it. “Lilian” is another case in point. While I like the way they’ve almost echoed to some extent the classic synth sound of “It’s No Good” – which provides a continuity of sorts – it also feels like they’ve referenced themselves a little too closely or lazily in the lyrics “you’ve stripped my heart/ ripped it apart” which recall the formulaic pop of “It’s Called A Heart”. To conclude, PTA is a good effort in many ways, but it doesn’t, as an album, do for me what Depeche Mode once did though I’m still hoping (though the odds are against it actually happening) that they’ll do something exceptional – which is precisely what albums like SGR, BC, MFTM, Violator, Ultra and even SOFAD and CTA still are.


Playing The Angel
Playing The Angel
Preis: EUR 9,98

1 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen On a par with Exciter . . ., 16. November 2005
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Playing The Angel (Audio CD)
I think the production is alright – sometimes very good, and sometimes a bit tinny. They were clearly going for a different feel and mostly it suites the songs, except for the decision to revive the plastic-sounding goth noise of Exciter’s “The Dead Of Night” in an attempt to lend “A Pain That I’m Used To” some sort of appropriate drama. Post-Alan Wilder however, I think that Ultra is their best produced album, though I agree that the band haven’t managed to recapture generally and to the same degree the unique sonic richness and depth that was used to match and flesh out the songwriting while Wilder was on board.
In terms of the songs, for me those that stand out most after repeated listening are “Suffer Well”, “Precious” and “Nothing’s Impossible”. They have the most emotional impact. “Suffer Well”, additionally, has a highly singable chorus and enjoyably crunchy guitar that moves it forwards nicely. With “Precious”, the openness and stark production work to great effect to foreground the nakedness of the emotion in the lyrics. It’s catchy and has the substance to give it staying power, unlike “Lilian” which, while catchy and one of the better songs on the album’s second half, is eventually annoying to hear and could have been a b-side. “Nothing’s Impossible” is a grower. It is darkly optimistic and has a 'we’re in the gutter but looking up at the stars' vibe so the dark and 'twinkly' production suits it well. While it never gets off the ground in a big way, also because of Dave's filtered singing, the submerged monochrome quality is a large part of its appeal. “The Sinner In Me”, while not covering any new ground lyrically, is very enjoyable in terms of the sonic detail which drives the song and gives it it’s edgy atmosphere.
On Exciter, too, there are only a few songs that I find myself going back to: 'Dream On' (great lyrics and properly finished unlike other Exciter songs); 'When The Body Speaks' (sustained meditative quality); 'Comatose' (wonderfully experimental sound texture and nice chorus despite awful verse lyrics); 'I Feel Loved' (slight but definitely upbeat); 'I Am You' (nice idea & production; strangely addictive). These songs are just about enough to make one forgive the often weak and repetitive lyrics, the endless soulful crooning meets boy-band pop, the flatness of the blips and bleeps and the dreary overall feel.
PTA’s weak points are that again, as with Exciter, some of the songs are compromised by either patchy or excessively self-indulgent lyrics (the Gore-sung ballads are a prime example.) Thankfully though, the tempo has been stepped up this time around and the songwriting is generally more accessible and some of the fighting spirit that characterized parts of Ultra and SOFAD is also back in the picture. For such reasons I initially thought that PTA was much better than Exciter, but in terms of overall album quality I think they’re pretty much equal despite their differences. The problem this time around is also that there are more than a few stylistic echoes of past material and it doesn’t really cover new ground thematically. That said, “Precious” is probably the best single they’ve released since some of the singles that were released off Ultra.
Essentially it’s down to the songs and ever since Exciter, when it comes to listening to Depeche Mode albums in their entirety, for me it’s been a case of diminishing returns though I also think they have put out some fantastic albums. Take a song like “John The Revelator” for instance. It’s fine – a catchy, brooding stomper, and the aggressive vocal style works for me too, as does the clever revival of the gospel feel of SOFAD in the song’s chorus. However, in the end, it’s not as skillful or thought-provoking as songs they've done before when venturing into similar territory like “Personal Jesus” or “Blasphemous Rumours” plus it’s also a bit of a rant if you're not in the mood for it. “Lilian” is another case in point. The overwhelming impression is that it’s a bit of a stylistic hybrid, say between “It’s Called A Heart” (catchy but forgettable) and “It’s No Good” (catchy, melancholic and yet uplifting i.e. classic) and therefore while enjoyable up to a point, is also so familiar that it’s like listening to ‘watered down’ Mode. To conclude, PTA is a good effort in many ways, but it doesn’t, as an album, do for me what Depeche Mode once did though I’m still hoping (though the odds are against it actually happening) that they’ll do something exceptional – which is precisely what albums like SGR, BC, MFM, Violator, Ultra and even SOFAD and CTA still are.


Exciter
Exciter
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Preis: EUR 13,26

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Some good moments, but a step down for DMode..., 28. Juni 2002
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Exciter (Audio CD)
Here and there perhaps, are hints of what might have been (the chorus of 'Shine' for instance; the direction taken musically after approx. 1 min 40 sec of 'The Sweetest Condition') but, sadly, many of the songs seem unfinished and are weighed down by weak, cliched lyrics, conveying the impression that the Depeche Mode of today are something of a spent force. One exception is the intriguing and atypical opener 'Dream On' which perhaps surprisingly, considering its wordiness, also comes across well live (as on the 'One Night In Paris' DVD.) Thanks to its deft mix of guitar and electronica - giving added resonance to the dark, unsettling undertones in the lyrics - and thanks to Dave's great delivery and the harmonizing between himself and Martin in the chorus, 'Dream On' remains the best song on 'Exciter'. 'Freelove', with its melancholic edge and its chorus, is probably one of the better songs on the album, although a bit too much 'pop-syrup' for my liking. Among the better songs, too, is 'When The Body Speaks'. Though the pace hardly picks up with this song - effectively underpinned as it is by guitar combined with strings and a subtle synth pulse - there is a sustained meditative quality which is appealing. Other tracks worth listening to include album closer 'Goodnight Lovers' and 'I Feel Loved'. The former is flimsy, though the choral backings and Dave's gentle, lullaby-like singing carry the song well. The latter is an affirming, if generic, sing-along dance-stomp and perhaps attracts attention due to its signs of life in an otherwise lacklustre environment. 'I Am You', for instance, starts off nicely production-wise but is a drag of a song that somehow never gets off the ground and keeps going round in circles before ending in shrill, ear-piercing noise. 'Breathe' could have been good but ends up being a mixed bag: on the one hand, there's an insistent, desperate tone that is affecting (it's well sung by Martin); on the other, the lyrics undermine the song through being so banal and repetitive. 'The Sweetest Condition', as vague lyrically as it is suggestive and which gets interesting sonically as it builds, simply peters out and doesn't really 'go' anywhere. 'Shine', except for the sentiment in the chorus, has awful, uninspired lyrics which sink it from the outset despite Mark Bell's attempts at salvaging something of a non-song. With 'Comatose', the experimental texture of the song is interesting and the chorus is enjoyable but the in-between lyrics are embarrassing - almost like an afterthought. 'The Dead Of Night', although catchy in its way and providing (as does 'I Feel Loved') a much needed change of pace, is horribly forced (with corny lyrics to boot) and comes across more as a Nine Inch Nails pastiche than anything else. As with 'Comatose', it's a dubious inclusion.


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