Dave Gahan – Paper Monsters
Record Label: Reprise / Mute Records
Release Date: June 3rd 2003
Last year, I found a copy of English electronic trio Depeche Mode’s 1995 record Ultra at a local Goodwill store for $1.99. I was curious, so I bought it, and I loved it. It’s a very moody, dark, but very wonderful piece of music. Fast forward a year later, and I was at my local FYE store, and I came across the first solo by frontman Dave Gahan, and it was a brand new copy on sale for $1.44. Well, if I can find a record for a dollar, I’ll check it out. It wasn’t used, it was totally new. It also came with a DVD, so that’s definitely worth it. This is a find that one would make at a garage, not in the mall. I always happen to luck out, but I digress. I did some research as I always do, and found out this was his first solo record, and it came out almost ten years ago, which is quite interesting, because the band themselves are releasing a new record in a few weeks. I’m definitely going to check that record out, but in the meantime, I have Paper Monsters by Dave Gahan, and to be totally honest, this doesn’t sound too much different from Depeche Mode to me. The main difference is the use of a lot of organic instruments, but the electronic element still exists within a few tracks. What also still exists is the atmospheric moodiness and despair that thrives within Depeche Mode, and that’s what makes this such a cool record. It’s so dark, eerie, and takes a lot of twists and turns. It’s what every moody and brooding teenager should listen to, because it fits a lot of dark and sad situations. It’s rather lengthy at 48 minutes, but it takes plenty of risks, and plenty of twists to keep the record engaging and interesting for the listener. Even if you’re not a fan of Depeche Mode or have never listened to them, you can still listen to this, and not really miss anything. You can listen to this record before or after you listen to a Depeche Mode record, because both projects are different, yet similar enough where a fan of Depeche Mode would still enjoy this, and vice versa. If you listen to this record first, you just might enjoy Depeche Mode. But with that being said, let’s search our closets and under our beds for paper monsters before we look at this record, shall we?
The record begins with “Dirty Sticky Floors,” and in all honesty, that title sounds really gross, but since I’m not a 12-year-old boy, I’ll let it slide. It starts off with a really cool and groovy guitar riff with some synth playing in the background, and suddenly, Gahan’s signature eerie voice finds its way into my speakers. His voice has always been really interesting to me, just because it’s so eerie and creepy, but it sounds amazing and beautiful at the same time. This is one of the more upbeat songs on the record, and one of the more “electronic” tracks, too, and it almost has a Depeche Mode vibe to it, to be honest. It’s also one of the shortest songs, too, at about three and a half minutes. As far as opening tracks go, this is a great song to start the record off, because it definitely makes me want to listen to more. Next track “Hold On” has another Depeche Mode vibe to it; it’s much more quiet, and has a very soft synth running through the track. Gahan’s voice fits with the music on the record perfectly. Since he was around 40 years old when he made this record, I would imagine he would know what he was doing. Fourth track “Bottle Living” is another track that I absolutely adore, because it even mixes some R&B into his sound, which works quite well. The next track “Black and Blue Again” is a track that has a very bluesy sound to it, and that’s quite coincidental, considering the title. This is also one of longest songs at almost 6 minutes. I will admit this song does kind of drag on, but because it’s so eerie, and Gahan’s voice is just so cool, it’s passable.
The next two songs on the record, “Stay” and “I Need You” are two of my favorites, because they’re two of the more emotional songs, meaning that they’re about someone close to Gahan, or in another words, relationship-esque songs. “I Need You” is my favorite of the two, because this song has really interesting lyrics, specifically, this part, which runs throughout the entire song at various points: “You’ll always need me much more than I need you.” The way Gahan sings these lyrics is really weird, but wonderful all at once. It’s moody, brooding, dark, but really cool, and different. Not to mention, this is one of the more memorable tracks, mainly because of those lyrics being the main “hook” of this record. What’s interesting is that this record really doesn’t have too many straightforward or formulaic songs on it. Aside from maybe the first track “Dirty Sticky Floors,” there aren’t any songs that have a clear-cut “hook” or even chorus, to say the least. This record is really disorganized, and it works in some songs, but it doesn’t in others. Eighth track “Bitter Apple” is one track where it doesn’t work. It’s an enjoyable track, but it’s another track that drags on a bit. It’s a bit longer than it really needs to be, and it doesn’t have any kind of formula to it, either. After the rather forgettable “Hidden Houses,” well, it’s not forgettable, but doesn’t do anything for me, really, last song “She Said (Goodbye)” is a very fitting last track, because of the title. It’s another somber and moody track, but it works quite well. That’s really how I would describe the whole record, though – it’s somber and moody. It sounds like a Depeche Mode record with less electronics and more guitars. That’s not a bad thing, because they have a great sound, too. All in all, this record works very well, and it’s even better, because I picked it up for only $1.44. There’s nothing like buying a record for under a $1.50 and absolutely loving it.