First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2003, Volume 10, #9
Written by John Metzger
As the frontman for Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan spent the 1980s fusing synth-pop with grim lyrics, creating a soundtrack for adolescents around the globe. By the 1990s, the band had become a massive alternative rock act, but the departure of keyboardist Alan Wilder in 1995 as well as a suicide attempt by the heroin-addicted Gahan signaled the extreme internal difficulties that the group was facing. Nevertheless, Depeche Mode released a few more albums, scoring several hits in the process, before deciding to take an indefinite hiatus so Dave Gahan and guitarist Martin Gore could each pursue their own endeavors.
Paper Monsters marks Gahanís debut as a solo artist and as a songwriter, and itís full of the type of reflective confessionals one might expect to hear. Naturally, the lyrics are centered around addiction, covering everything from Gahanís rock-bottom lows to the highs of his subsequent recovery and redemption. Musically, the album draws from Depeche Modeís sound, though it also tosses around splashes of U2ís psychedelic R&B as well as the sort of dreamy, ambient textures that blur the line between Pink Floyd and The Cure. Good as this may seem, Paper Monsters doesnít hold together quite as well as it should for Gahan. Undoing the momentum built by the heady swirl of Dirty Sticky Floors, Bottle Living, and Black & Blue Again are far too many slow, unaffecting numbers. As a result, the album, unfortunately, becomes largely a forgettable foray that frequently fails to resonate. Ĺ
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box