Subtle and stripped, Exciter explores new horizons while remaining faithful to the formula of Depeche Mode's success. For the first time, Depeche Mode is inspired directly by other musical currents, proposing an album that's varied musically, but also less personal.
Initially, the disc is marked by its succinct arrangements, far from the solemn sound of Songs of Faith and Devotion. Like the single "Dream On", in general the rhythms are discreet and the guitars acoustic while Dave Gahan's voice is surprisingly softer and fragile. The electronics are used parsimoniously, proposing the purity of the pieces rather than drowning them arrangements. Though the style of Martin Gore is always present, this time he dares to venture into other musical universes, with irony however, since his borrowing often comes from groups he's inspired. But the great surprise is the presence of light melodies antipodal to their usual dark harmonies.
"Dream On" thus testifies to the contrast of this album, creating a certain lightness while remaining faithful to guitar riffs in the line of "Personal Jesus" and "I Feel You". "Shine" injects techno sounds to a classic piece while "Sweetest Condition" is uninteresting, the echo of an old and not very palpitating song. "When The Body Speaks" is without any doubt the pearl of this album, offering a superb atmospheric ballad which is reminiscent of U2's "With Or Without You". "The Dead Of The Night" is another obvious reference, since one could compare it with Nine Inch Nails, although the lyrics gently mock the industrial movement: "We are the dead of night, we're in the zombie room, we're twilight's parasites with self-inflicted wounds". "Love Theme" and "Easy Tiger" are two friendly but benign interludes. Just like "Dream One", with his soft voice, acoustic guitars, rhythms, and light electronic sounds "Free Love" is a powerful song with a great chorus. "Comatose" is the typical tortured and painful song that Gore includes on every one of the group's discs. With its catchy refrain and dance beat, "I Feel Loved" should lead the stampede on the dance floor for fans of "Behind The Wheel". Ask anyone you'd like, but Gore's "Breathe", which has its eyes on Angelo Badalamenti and Twin Peaks, is without any doubt the most unbearable song on Exciter because of the monotonous singing and stupid lyrics. The pulsating "I Am You" will slowly hypnotize you in order to better seduce you. Finally, "Goodnight Lovers", a charming lullaby with a gospel chorus, perfectly and tranquilly concludes the LP.
Exciter is uneven and voluntarily minimalist because it's a transitory album. Just like a calm after the storm, this disc is a way for the group to heal their wounds and exorcise the demons of their last few chaotic years. Finally, a moment of lucidity and a light disc will predict the best to come.