For a while it seemed as though Depeche Mode had run their course. Baritone front man Dave Gahan had released his own solo work Paper Monsters, and songwriter Martin Gore seemed content to reinterpret all manner of music, from Kurt Weill to Iggy Pop.
Eleventh album Playing The Angel seems to find an accommodation between Gahan's newfound ability to write songs of his own and Gore's role as the band's longtime lynchpin and director. Depeche Mode must be Precious indeed.
Unfortunately, Precious, Playing The Angel's lead single and the band's first for four years, is Mode by numbers. It's a Gore song and sounds a great deal like much that has gone before, despite Ben Hillier lending himself for production duties. It starts, it runs for a few minutes, it stops. Despite some quintessentially Mode synth sounds - sounding as fresh now as they did in the '80s - and a briefly interesting bridge section formed of heavy, distorted riffs, Precious is less addictive than average. We can but hope it's not indicative of a lacklustre album.