Now that it's a week before the release of "Playing The Angel" Depeche Mode reviews are starting to appear everywhere and you can even stream the album in a couple of places so the hype continues. I've given the album a few good listens and it's a solid album that has grown on me with each listen. If "Precious" wasn't indication enough, I can safely say at this point that the surefire alt-pop sense of "Violator" when even b-sides like "Sea Of Sin" & "Dangerous" sounded like hits is something the band will never regain. The album is more of a return to the mid-80's flirting with industrial and all things goth sound that they had down.
The most shocking thing I've found in the album's reviews is the fond memories critics seem to have of "Exciter." Arjan Writes refers to that album as "critically-acclaimed" and PlayLouder use "much-underrated" to describe the album I've rarely seen defended by even the most hardcore Depeche fans. I just don't get it. Ever since it's release in 2001 I've pulled "Exciter" out every six months or so to see if I missed something, but I still end up turning it off before the halfway point and despite the many second chances I've given it, it's still one of my least listen to albums that I've ever bought. There are two songs "Dream On" and "Freelove" that are fantastic, but the rest... It's not that I don't think that Mark Bell can't produce since Bjork's "Homogenic" is a fantastic album, but there is no passion and Gore admitted that he only wrote the record to appease his record company who hired a small production team to assist his writing process. The lifelessness of that album is just deadening and it's great to find that DM have found a new lease on life.