Dave Gahan - Paper Monsters
After the disappointing dirge of Martin L Gore's "Counterfeit II" all eyes are focusing on Dave Gahan to deliver that great solo record with "Paper Monsters". It's hard to believe that in the 22 years Gahan has fronted Depeche Mode it's always been Gore who has lyrically been able to transcribe the pain and loss Gahan has been feeling into anthemic lyrics. When Gahan was on suicidal drug binges it was always Gore who was there trying to make a positive out of the negative and turn the experience into heartfelt lyrics which Gahan could sing with a degree of honesty.
If Depeche Mode was an autobiographical effort by Gore then "Paper Monsters" is the less interesting censored official biography. "Bottle Living", one of two tracks which he describes as having a tongue in cheek Mud feel to it is just a poor relation to the Mode's "Personal Jesus" which will work great live with Gahan acting up to the rock god persona, but on record it falls flat on it's face. The single "Dirty Sticky Floors" has the lame production and cross fusion of dance and rock music which made the band popular, but here it comes across as premeditated and as lame as a Tatu b-side and the addition of self parodying lyrics certainly does little to help it's cause.
Much of the problems on "Paper Monsters" could perhaps be attributed to his collaborator Knox Chandler. It's hard for us to say as in terms of songwriting there's no precedent of Gahan's to compare it to, but it seems as if Chandler is living in the shadows afraid of trying something new and in the process attempting rehashes of his friends better works. Of the ten tracks here it's really on "Stay" and "I Need You" which really can stand up as truly great songs. The former pushes the vocals to the fore while the instrumentation is minimalist, while the latter takes Gahan back to his routes in his most upbeat song since the bands "Just Can't Get Enough" period.
It's hard to see what the point of "Paper Monsters" is apart from a vanity project or ego fulfilment for Gahan himself. And for that reason why didn't he simply make the music for his own listening pleasure rather than pushing it on unsuspecting Depeche Mode fans who will lap it up by association.
Post your Dave Gahan reviews / comments on the Message Board
Win tickets to see Dave Gahan @ Move Festival 2003
Designer Magazine Move Festival 2003 Microsite