Depeche Mode
Exciter


3.5
great

Review

by Stephen Gore USER (43 Reviews)
December 28th, 2006 | 11 replies | 9,595 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The masters of subliminal angst-rock-synthery...chill out (?)

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

2001. 20 years after Depeche Mode's first album, they regrouped again to create Exciter, an album ostensibly meant to make up for their 'difficult' previous album Ultra. Unfortunately, though it's solid enough, it's not quite the return to form that all Moders were hoping for.

At this point, Gahan was five years clean, and though solo albums lurked in the wings for both singer and songwriter, they nevertheless put aside their musical differences to create this intricate soundscape of alternative, mellow songs that caress the listener rather than grab them by the throat. They're pleasant enough, and deal with suitably subversive topics such as sex, drugs and cynicism, but are they Depeche Mode?

'Dream On', the first song and first single, is easily the best, and showcases an extremely catchy lead acoustic guitar riff, underpinned by a sharp electronic backing, revealing the influence of Mark Bell, producer of such fine albums as Bjork's Homogenic. His influence is felt throughout on this rather minimalist, electro album. The song is suitably catchy without ever approaching raucousness. 'Shine' is similarly laid-back, starting with Buddhist-sounding Wahhh-Wah-Ahh-sounds, before getting all bitter after the second chorus - "You've been hanging from a rope of mediocrity/Strung up by your insecurities". 'The Sweetest Condition' picks up where 'The Sweetest Perfection' (Violator) left off; that is, it deals with drugs in a bittersweet manner; "A body in heaven and a mind full of dirt", and all to a bluesy backdrop.

'When The Body Speaks' is such a simple song. A soft, sweet guitar line and some faint strings are all that is needed with Gahan's vocals to create a sublimely sentimental ballad. However, it must be noted that by this point in the album, you are in danger of falling asleep with the sheer weight of slowies thrust upon you since track one. So the engine-revving noise that features at the start of 'The Dead Of Night' takes you by surprise, to say the least. This is a strange, Marilyn Manson-esque trip into pounding Goth territory and is totally unexpected, both from this album and DM in general. They carry it off (DM are never less than talented musicians) but you can't help but wonder why they took this route. Surely they had enough experience of up-tempo numbers to produce one that didn't go into nu-metal pastiche?

Still, never mind. The rest of the album continues its chilled-out course. 'Lovetheme' is an instrumental that follows and is calm and spacey enough. 'Freelove' features a great chorus, while the lyrics preach about the merits of casual sex (luvverly) and is followed by 'Comotose', which is exactly how it sounds - a non-melodic slowie whose rhythm meanders everywhere without going anywhere exciting. I thought this album was called Exciter?

'I Feel Loved' was therefore put in to bring the tempo up again, and unlike 'The Dead Of Night', this song actually succeeds in being memorable and is one of the highlights of the album. It's not quite a Donna Summer rip-off, but it comes pretty close. Having said that, the middle-eight is quite subversive and highly original - it remains the highlight of the song. 'Breathe's' biblical references are just silly, and though the floaty melody just about saves it, you don't want Martin to make this mistake too often. After an anonymous instrumental, 'I Am You' would bring the album to a comfortable close. It's an unusual mix of being anthemic and sentimental, especially that last chorus.

'Goodnight Lovers' was chosen to end the album on a different note to 'I Am You'. It's a whispered lullaby; you could imagine Gahan singing it to a baby, except it's a typically cynical song from Martin Gore about LOVE, of all things; "When you're born a lover/You're born to suffer/Like all soul sisters and soul brothers". It's a suitably mellow end to a mellow album.

So why is it called Exciter? Well. Martin apparently named it so because he thought the production approach this time was exciting; in that he tried out lots of new, ambient ideas and sounds. Sorry, Mart, not good enough. Mark Bell did a good job here in terms of programming, and the album does have its serene moments ('When The Body Speaks', 'Freelove'), but it's all too mono-paced to be one of their best. The band were to get a much-needed injection of energy in their superior follow-up, Playing The Angel. Still, if you like the soft side of Depeche Mode and want a sentimental, chilled-out album, you could do a lot worse. Expertly crafted, the dark side of Depeche Mode is conspicuous by its absence. This is, essentially, music to sit in the lotus position to. In those terms, it's great. Just don't expect any songs like 'Personal Jesus' here.



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user ratings (232)
Chart.
3.2
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other reviews of this album
Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (2.5)
Mellow, tranquil, chilled, relaxed - none of these words are likely to spring to mind when you think...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
December 29th 2006



3553 Comments


I'm pretty sure that this is the highest score I've ever seen this album given. Then again, there's every chance I'd like it; a lot of DM fans dismissed Playing The Angel, and I actually feel that's on a par with Violator.

Incidentally, this is a really good review. Very well written and easy to read.

Kaleid
December 29th 2006



709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, PTA is certainly a return to form, if not the all-time best. It's good if you want to burn a little anger off. Exciter is lovely if you want to burn some incenseThis Message Edited On 03.27.07

weepingwillowdown
August 19th 2008



29 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This one sucks probably the only complete Depeche Mode failure. All the songs on here are dull.

kygermo
January 5th 2009



994 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^^ You sir are ignorant. This is a good record, but not one of my favorites. Id certainly not recommend it to somebody trying to get into the Mode. Playing The Angel, however, was excellent. Lets hope DM can top it with this new one.

Trez
May 15th 2010



89 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good, but not Great, Depeche Mode. I feel Loved is pretty cool.

rodrigo90
July 28th 2010



210 Comments


if depeche mode have to make a next step into a new territory exciter is probably their best move and makes the start of this decade more original than most of the synth pop bands...is not rock but is not pop is just a work of electronic instruments and acoustic things that make the album probably more interesting than much of the bjork's albums...

AlexTM510
January 27th 2011



1396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is the only Depeche Mode album I could ever really get into. Not that the other stuff is bad (it's not) but yea the chill vibe from this album always won me over.

Digging: Daniel Blomquist - measureless oceans of space

davidc2k3
March 5th 2011



8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

CHILLER!

This a very underrated DM album. But, I discovered this hidden gem, a really different style from previous efforts. DM are
very brave to make the changes. Who want to listen to same sound like Violator or Black Celebration will be disappointed,
but I found this as refreshing change. Favorites: Shine, When the body speaks, Freelove, I feel loved, Good night lovers.

devoted82
July 21st 2011



19 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Arguably the weakest of Depeche Mode's 2000s efforts. Thats not to say there aren't a few highpoints - Dream On and I Feel Loved are very catchy singles and When The Body Speaks is simple yet beautiful. I think the biggest problem here is the pacing, too many ballads and dull instrumentals and the fact that the band were still trying to find their feet production-wise after the departure of Alan Wilder. That would change drastically on the follow-up.

Meatplow
September 27th 2011



5524 Comments


I think this is one of their best tbh

sinsexsodomy
March 25th 2013



177 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Arguably the weakest of Depeche Mode's 2000s efforts...."

Nooooo Sounds is worse then this, definitely



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