Album Review: Depeche Mode "Exciter"

With a name like a dubious aphrodisiac jelly, the latest effort by the ever-boyish Depeche Mode, promises more of the 'pervy' lyrics and electronic pop/rock that has seen them sell 50 million albums since the early 80s. In that time electronic music has been the great leveller among recording artists, allowing people of relatively limited musical ability to crash the party. Depeche Mode, however, show that ability and experience still count for a lot.

After going through a rough patch with each other, Gore, Gahan, and Fletcher have come through the tunnel and, with Bjork’s producer, Mark Bell, at the producing console, have emerged into the sunlight with an album that sounds fresher than anything they have produced for a decade. Part of the reason for this is the variety: Breathe could be a slow torch ballad sung by a young Marc Almond, while When The Body Speaks, with its sparse resonant guitar and beautiful melody, sounds like something U2 should have done.

One of the triumphs of the album is Dead of Night, which out-Marilyns Marilyn Manson with its a heavy, swaggering feel, and biting lyrics the Roppongi set might well take offence at: "We are the dead of night/ We're in the zombie room/ We're twilight's parasites/ We're self-inflicted wounds." With choice lyrics about lost love, compulsion, addiction, and denial, hung on great melodic hooks, main songwriter Martin Gore shows that he's still the Noel Coward of electro pop/rock, while David Gahan's voice, as ever, gives things an interesting twist.

Colin Liddell
Japan Times
30th May, 2001

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