site intro        go to year        fan club        miscellaneous        links

RECONSTRUCTION TIME AGAIN
[Q, June 2001. Words: Gareth Grundy. Picture: Spiros Politis.]

" [A]nyone who believed Depeche Mode were a more sophisticated and subtle venture than their gloom-by-numbers imitators will begin to feel very disappointed indeed. "

Summary: The author of this slightly cynical review is disappointed with 'Exciter', considering it a feeble effort in comparison to Depeche Mode's earlier material. While it makes depressing reading, the views are fairly expressed and have been shared by many fans. [330 words]

View pages:    page 1

Try also:    "Still Gahan Strong" [NME, 22nd September 2001]
                "Mode To Nowhere" [The Observer Music Monthly, 16th October 2005]
                

    They are, of course, indestructible, and not just because singer Dave Gahan survived a hefty heroin habit. Depeche Mode seem bullet-proof because even an album as distinctly below par as their last one, 1997's Ultra, resulted in worldwide sales of over four million. The sheer momentum of a 20-year, 50 million album-selling career has enabled the Basildon trio to pull through the kind of creative troughs and work-related stress that would break lesser outfits. In this respect they are - like it or not - the closest wussy synth-rock will ever get to a Rolling Stones. And in the face of such blue-chip stability only one question remains: are Depeche Mode any good any more?

    Not really. At best, Exciter is superficially attractive: an exercise in good taste that mixes contemporary droning with shuffling drums and guitar. It's a pleasant enough wrapping, provided by producer Mark Bell (Bjork), that slips easily around Dave Gahan's recharged vocals and swaggering ballads such as The Sweetest Condition.

    In fact Gahan, whose ill-health hampered the making of Ultra, has rarely sounded more potent. This time it's Martin Gore who's out of puff. No amount of fashionable tweaking can hide the flimsiness of his offerings: I Am You and Breathe are sliver-thin, while I Feel Loved is a clumsy lunge towards the techno sounds originally inspired by the band. Elsewhere, The Dead Of Night feebly thanks an entire generation of US Goth rockers for their support by twinning feeble nonsense about "zombie rooms" and "twilight parasites" with an anodyne, Marilyn Manson-style mechanical grind. At which point anyone who believed Depeche Mode were a more sophisticated and subtle venture than their gloom-by-numbers imitators will begin to feel very disappointed indeed.

    Present-day Depeche Mode are an enervating experience. Exciter might be measured and cool but it's also devoid of genuine drama and appealing melody: once the band's greatest strengths. Not that any of this will hurt them though: the Depeche Mode juggernaut is sure to rumble on regardless. ««

[back to top]   

  site intro        go to year        fan club        miscellaneous        links