After surprisingly co-writing three songs for Depeche Mode's "Playing the Angel" (including two of the album's best ones: "Suffer Well" and "Nothing's Impossible"), it is only to be expected that the new solo single "Kingdom" is better than any of the songs from Gahan's 2003 debut "Paper Monsters".

This time around, the Depeche frontman is closer to the dark sound of modern era Depeche Mode. I fail to see the point in Gahan repeating the Depeche routine. Instead, why not go for a different experience, something he can't achieve within the boundaries of Depeche Mode? He's playing it safe by appealing to the Depeche fans, for better or worse. We get a song in the style we all love but is a second Depeche Mode what the world needs? His team also includes Christian Eigner and Andrew Phillpott from the Depeche Mode tour. It smells Depeche Mode all over the place. Perhaps it's only this first single which is designed to get the attention of the Depeche masses?

"The acclaimed singer/songwriter" (quote from the press release...) delivers a dark, cold, dirty and powerful piece, fuelled by electronics as opposite to the "Paper Monster" tracks. It performed well when we tested it on a dancefloor the other day (prior to the Universal Poplab gig at Sticky Fingers in Gothenburg). We have the one track radio single of "Kingdom". Other versions will include the B-side "Tomorrow", a video directed by Jaron Albertine and remixes.

I must say hearing Gahan and co work on the song in the low-quality video clip which is all over the net, damaged my first impressions a little. In general, crappy Youtube and Myspace streams are not making it easy to fall in love with a song at first glance. I remember listening to the "Strangelove" single in a Gothenburg record store the day it arrived back in 1987; that was the real deal, with the proper record and good headphones. It even smelled good. But "Kingdom" grows on me and any initial doubts are long gone.

It remains to be seen if Gahan has it in him to fill an entire album's worth of strong material. "Hourglass" arrives on October 22.