Back in the day, few keyboard-jocking new-wave hipster dudes sounded as grandiose as David Gahan cooing his way through Violator
(still the best "Why Don't We Put on Some Soft Music, Take Off Our Pants, and Just, You Know, Relax, Baby" record of all time). And few dance-floor synth epics have held up as well as "Enjoy the Silence," "World in My Eyes," and "Policy of Truth." Even the vaunted British outfit's later work (1993's sprawling, underrated Songs of Faith and Devotion
) beeps and blips along splendidly. But it's been an awfully long time. And Depeche Mode sounds bored as shit on Exciter
, a new album that trades in all that oddly appealing melodrama for minimalist electro-acoustic yawners and faux-Bjork production foppery. At best, you get OK pop tunes like "Dream On" or touchy-feely, pants-removing reprises like "When the Body Speaks." Overall, though, it's clearly an aging band's attempt to buy/appropriate hipness it can't quite manufacture itself anymore. Hey, guys, allow us to offer a humble suggestion: Turn this tour into a greatest hits extravaganza, with "Never Let Me Down" rumbling headlong into "Blasphemous Rumors" and "Personal Jesus." Hell, play "I Just Can't Get Enough," if you'd like. Keep the "Here's one off our new record!" moments to an absolute minimum. Smile and wave and take your bows as the accolades and benevolence and undergarments fly toward you onstage. And then, get the hell outta there. Retire. Go out on top, or at least on the side somewhere. Beam with pride as millions of electro-rockin' bands claim you as an influence before crashing and burning while trying to get it right. Do it, before you become one of those bands yourself.