England had been lacklustre against Hungary in their previous game but they were anything but against a weak Albanian side, securing the 5-0 win that puts them a point away from qualifying for the World Cup.
"I thought it was a really strong team performance, particularly that first half," said the Harrogate-based manager.
"We had an edge about us and we're at our best when we have an edge. We had a collective response from our last game and we talked about that all week.
"We were very clear why we thought we hadn't got that performance and I thought we really addressed that in the first half in particular. That was really pleasing."
Harry Kane scored a perfect hat-trick, adding to first-half goals from Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson. It was a good riposte by the captain, whose club form has been much-criticised this season.
"Harry's all-round centre-forward performance was excellent, not just the goals," said Southgate.
"It was a really pleasing performance from him."
England will qualify for the 2022 winter World Cup in Qatar if they avoid defeat in San Marino on Monday, their final qualifying game.