Here and there perhaps, are hints of what might have been (the chorus of 'Shine' for instance; the direction taken musically after approx. 1 min 40 sec of 'The Sweetest Condition') but, sadly, many of the songs seem unfinished and are weighed down by weak, cliched lyrics, conveying the impression that the Depeche Mode of today are something of a spent force. One exception is the intriguing and atypical opener 'Dream On' which perhaps surprisingly, considering its wordiness, also comes across well live (as on the 'One Night In Paris' DVD.) Thanks to its deft mix of guitar and electronica - giving added resonance to the dark, unsettling undertones in the lyrics - and thanks to Dave's great delivery and the harmonizing between himself and Martin in the chorus, 'Dream On' remains the best song on 'Exciter'. 'Freelove', with its melancholic edge and its chorus, is probably one of the better songs on the album, although a bit too much 'pop-syrup' for my liking. Among the better songs, too, is 'When The Body Speaks'. Though the pace hardly picks up with this song - effectively underpinned as it is by guitar combined with strings and a subtle synth pulse - there is a sustained meditative quality which is appealing. Other tracks worth listening to include album closer 'Goodnight Lovers' and 'I Feel Loved'. The former is flimsy, though the choral backings and Dave's gentle, lullaby-like singing carry the song well. The latter is an affirming, if generic, sing-along dance-stomp and perhaps attracts attention due to its signs of life in an otherwise lacklustre environment. 'I Am You', for instance, starts off nicely production-wise but is a drag of a song that somehow never gets off the ground and keeps going round in circles before ending in shrill, ear-piercing noise. 'Breathe' could have been good but ends up being a mixed bag: on the one hand, there's an insistent, desperate tone that is affecting (it's well sung by Martin); on the other, the lyrics undermine the song through being so banal and repetitive. 'The Sweetest Condition', as vague lyrically as it is suggestive and which gets interesting sonically as it builds, simply peters out and doesn't really 'go' anywhere. 'Shine', except for the sentiment in the chorus, has awful, uninspired lyrics which sink it from the outset despite Mark Bell's attempts at salvaging something of a non-song. With 'Comatose', the experimental texture of the song is interesting and the chorus is enjoyable but the in-between lyrics are embarrassing - almost like an afterthought. 'The Dead Of Night', although catchy in its way and providing (as does 'I Feel Loved') a much needed change of pace, is horribly forced (with corny lyrics to boot) and comes across more as a Nine Inch Nails pastiche than anything else. As with 'Comatose', it's a dubious inclusion.