DAVE GAHAN Paper Monsters (Warner) Rating: NNN
Paper Monsters is the sound of synth pop growing up, getting bored with clubbing and chucking some of that morbid angst for pensive self-reflection. This solo album by the ex-junkie former voice behind Depeche Mode is far from an upper, but instead of the throbbing, agonized self-loathing of, say, It's No Good, you find sweetly low-key ballads of longing (Hold On, Stay), echoey industrial blues (Black And Blue Again) and sinister upbeat semi-rockers with a driving beat (Bottle Living). The vibe wavers on the edge of techno-glam, but Gahan's unmistakable resonant baritone vocals and the actual instrumentation add a human touch. One tip: don't listen too hard to the banal lyrics.