Depeche Mode



by Kaleid USER (46 Reviews)
December 28th, 2006 | 39 replies

Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

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

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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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 29th 2006


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

August 20th 2008


Album Rating: 1.5

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

January 5th 2009


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.

May 16th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

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

July 28th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

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 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...

January 28th 2011


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.

March 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0


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.

July 21st 2011


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.

September 27th 2011


I think this is one of their best tbh

March 25th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

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

Nooooo Sounds is worse then this, definitely

Log S.
December 19th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, this album is "chill" but it's also beautiful

general concensus isn't totally baffling, but i consider this & ultra both successful re-inventions which i guess ended up more popular with newer fans than anything else

August 17th 2016


I'd say this is their weakest

February 6th 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

I appreciate the calm and DM are competent on the record, even if its not very progressive for them.

Demon of the Fall
June 15th 2018


Album Rating: 2.0

Is the album title supposed to be ironic? Only 'average' DM so far, didn't get anything from this. Dull.

July 20th 2018


dream on is so damn smooth

Log S.
August 1st 2018


Album Rating: 3.5

People who don't like this album need to take a chill pill, perhaps poor themselves a gin & tonic, get their "dick sucked" or something like it in the cool summer air of a beautiful night. Then maybe you'll understand

It ain't all about cryin' in your BDSM gear no more, fellas!

September 27th 2019


really starting to enjoy this one...

Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

This is really underrated in their discography. I love it

October 26th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

This album is incredible, and severely underrated. 2020 has made me go back to albums like this and realize how wrong I was.

October 30th 2020


Album Rating: 4.5

"Like all soul sisters, and soul brothers"

I have listened to Goodnight Lovers around 20 times this week.

When Gore comes in at the end of the final chorus gives me goosebumps.

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