Whoa. Who expected this? Popular concensus holds that Depeche Mode peaked in 1991 with Violator, while many fans point to the likes of Songs of Faith & Devotion. Me? I point to this. Whatever I was expecting when I got this, I certainly wasn't expecting as album that would be on a par with Violator, let alone one that would narrowly top it. It's just crammed with great songs - "A Pain That I'm Used To", "John The Revelator", "The Sinner In Me", the "Enjoy The Silence" sequel "Precious", "The Darkest Star"....this was possibly the best shock of 2005 for me. I can't recommend this highly enough to DM fans.
i think it is safe to say that this album is the point where synthpop with a more rock-ish feel has taken flight and succeeded. DM has put out a great album that is still filled with wonderful lyrics and music that come from previous work, but they bring out a more rock feel to every single track. i don't have to warn listeners that this is not a happy album, as the lyrics and even the music create a dark atmosphere. But, this is exactly what one is expecting when they listen to DM.