With fellow Depeche Mode man Martin Gore off finding creative comfort in his own record collection, lead singer Dave Gahan turns inside for solo sustenance.
Unsurprisingly the opening "Dirty Sticky Floors" moves to a decadent dance beat reminiscent of Depeche Mode at their synth and guitar pop peak. From then on in though, Paper Monsters wears an altogether different set of sonic influences on its sleeve. The stirring "Hold On" could easily have been written by Bono for a Wim Wenders movie while the severed slow waltz shuffle of "Black and Blue Again" bears an unmistakable Nick Cave bluesy swagger in its sheet of down-tuned guitars, harmonica wails and self-deprecating vocal wails.
Indeed, inner turmoil and impending breakdown seem to be the order of the day with the ambient hued strings of "A Little Piece" scraping away at the surface emotions and the glam electro-clash strut of "Bottle Living" witnessing the perils of a rock 'n roll lifestyle. Melding the alienated undercurrents of Depeche Mode ("Stay" and "Bitter Apples") the slow disco shimmer of "I Need You" and the haunting redemptive desire of "Hidden Houses" are all harrowing snapshots of Gahan's claustrophobic altered inner state. The closing "Goodbye" is adrift in an ocean of breathy vocal murmurs struggling to avoid drowning in dark waters, yet ultimately surging free of any emotional stasis as layered waves of guitar crash and burn out. The fine-line between suicide and salvation has seldom sounded more seductive.
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