There's always been a gothic edge to Depeche Mode's brand of synth-pop and the discovery that singer Dave Gahan's drug addiction led to several brushes with death only enhanced their image as morbid, slightly creepy merchants of doom. This is their tenth studio album and it's a real mixed bag, often compelling but ultimately frustrating. On the plus side there's some truly beautiful mood pieces here, underpinned by stripped-down electronics and Gahan's heartfelt vocals. Sadly the band haven't lost their habit of doing everything to excess; Exciter is disappointingly inconsistent and it falls badly away at the end. Not a bad album by any means, but nowhere near as good as it could have been.