With all its understated vocals, hushed instrumentals, and lyrical declarations of/investigations into love, EXCITER is undoubtedly the warmest and most “adult” Depeche Mode album to date. “When the Body Speaks” is an effectively poignant ballad complete with graceful string section. “Lovetheme” is a gentle ambient instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place next to any German electronicat you care to mention. Later another, slightly more melodic, instrumental (“Easy Tiger”) pops up. “Goodnight Lovers” is a bittersweet tune full of open-hearted sentiment and heart-tugging melodicism.
While “Breathe” is underlaid with low-key breakbeats, the group largely sticks with the sonic language they helped create in the ’80s and early-’90s, leaving the trappings of latter-day electronica to the youngsters. With it’s club-worthy beat, “I Feel Loved” is certainly the most danceable track on EXCITER, but its complex lyrical scheme and gnarly synth textures make it unlikely house party fodder. The harsh, bluesy tone of “The Dead of Night” harks back to “Your Own Personal Jesus,” and finds David Gahan reveling in the kind of studied decadence that helped make the group’s reputation, but the song is an anomaly. EXCITER offers a kinder, gentler, seemingly wiser Depeche Mode that’s figured out how to grow up without growing old.
Additional personnel includes: Knox Chandler (cello); Todd C. Reynolds, Joyce Hammann, Natalie Cenovia Cummins, Ralph H. Farris, Lee Grinhauz (strings); Airto Moreira (percussion).
Recorded at RAK, Sarm West, London, England; Sound Design, Santa Barbara, California; Electric Lady, Sony Studios, New York, New York.
Depeche Mode: Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher.
Rolling Stone (6/7/01, p.115) – 3.5 stars out of 5 – “…Glimmers like a gentle ambient doodle with vocals….the softest songs leap to the foreground like a whisper from a lover….maintaining an otherworldly mood and purity of purpose…”
Entertainment Weekly (6/8/01, p.76) – “…Producer Mark Bell smartly leaves the retro melodies intact, while decorating them with experimental, electronic gloss…” – Rating: B-
Alternative Press (6/01, p.67) – 4 out of 5 – “…Embraces the latest electronic substrata within the context of cheif songwriter Martin Gore’s well-crafted pop tunes….this mesh of men and machinery is definitely not your parents’ Depeche Mode…”
CMJ (5/28/01, p.4) – “…Like an amalgamation of all of its ’90s incarnations….The band is in good form…Dave Gahan’s voice…is now as confident as ever, and Gore’s guitar playing blends with DM’s electronics in a way it hasn’t since VIOLATOR…”
Mojo (Publisher) (6/01, p.108) – “…Innovative, enigmatic and passionate…it’s also Martin Gore finally achieving the pop perfection he’d locked inside for so long…”
NME (Magazine) (5/12/01, p.41) – 8 out of 10 – “…Fresh and confident….Producer Mark Bell has coaxed a kind of electro-acoustic mix from the Mode putting clear blue water between EXCITER and their most recent experiments…”
1. Dream On
3. The Sweetest Condition
4. When The Body Speaks
5. The Dead Of Night
9. I Feel Loved
11. Easy Tiger
12. I Am You
13. Goodnight Lovers