Martin Gore's Counterfeit² beat David Gahan's Paper Monsters to the punch by just over a month; with some better timing -- and, you know, a synchronous album from Andrew Fletcher -- Depeche Mode could've pulled a Kiss. This first full-length from DM's principal songwriter follows an EP he released 14 years prior. On that EP, Gore covered some of his favorite songs and made them sound unsurprisingly like his group circa that year. As one can tell from the title of this disc, this is the same concept, and even some of the most ardent fans no doubt breathed another sigh of relief with the knowledge that he decided once again to let other people provide the lyrics. The only song Gore shouldn't have gone anywhere near is Nick Cave's "Loverman." While the dramatic lyrics are a suitable enough fit, he doesn't attempt to change the manner in which they were delivered on the original and in turn sounds goofy; he's incapable of taking the seething monstrous form that the song requires. The majority of the remaining songs are smarter selections. In David Essex's "Stardust," Gore's voice is almost as weary as the spare arrangement, which surges crawlingly so with occasional surges of buzzing noise. Brian Eno's "By This River" is given a faithful update; Gore recognized its gentle naïveté and ran with it for one of the album's best moments. It also suggests, like a handful of songs here, that he's been paying attention to the indie-electronic pop coming from labels like Morr Music and City Centre Offices. The basic template of the Velvet Underground's "Candy Says" is similarly fiddled with as little as possible and, with the slight gradients on which the keyboards run, could've just as easily been picked up from the second side of Eno's Before and After Science. Gore is almost too polite to these songs, but surely that can be forgiven when his love for them is so apparent.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman