A new disc from the Rolling Stones is often cause for celebration. Not because the albums are any good -- they've been shit since, oh, about 1981, right? -- but because it means the band will be coming around on tour, and loyal fans will get to see Mick 'n' Keef rip through "Jumpin' Jack Flash" one more time. After 2001's uninspired Exciter, it looked as if Depeche Mode was settling into a similar role; the recent appearance of career-spanning singles boxed sets and the release of Depeche Mode 101 (the kick-ass concert film originally put out in 1989) on DVD pointed to a pure nostalgia trip from here on out for the quarter-century-old British synth-pop outfit, which is still known for putting on a killer live show. But we've got good news, and it's not that singer Dave Gahan just saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico. The Mode's new album, Playing the Angel, is terrific -- moody and morose and memorable, with plenty of fresh ideas wedged into the band's established framework. In other words, when DM plays new songs like "A Pain That I'm Used To" and "Suffer Well," you probably won't wanna head to the bathroom line, hoping not to miss the first half of "Never Let Me Down Again."
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