I have mixed feelings about this album. I mean, the lyrics are there, the songs are great, the melodies are Depeche Mode through and through, while Dave delivers a wonderful vocal performance. Still, there's this little catch.
I have all Depeche Mode albums, and Exciter is the only one that took quite some time to really grow on me. I think the problem lies in what a previous reviewer mentioned: the repetition of an assortment of clicks and little noises that, to me, can be a bit grating at times. The tracks - with a few exceptions - start to sound more or less the same sooner or later. Don't get me wrong: the songs are truly great, they grow on you; the problem is that I am not totally comfortable with the arrangements chosen to accompany the lyrics and the melodies, and this detracts a bit from my overall enjoyment of Exciter.
Bottom line: Exciter is certainly not my favorite Depeche Mode album, but I like it fine (although it took longer to grow on me than previous DM albums). I also don't think it is a step backwards for Depeche Mode. It is perfect for a quiet, relaxing listen. I am only a little uncomfortable with the arrangements, but the rest is top-notch, as usual with DM.