Review: 45 Years Later, Simple Minds Are Still Going Strong

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Simple Minds/Direction Of The Heart/BMG
3.5 Out of Five Stars

There’s something to be said for consistency, and more than that, for a partnership that’s lasted 45 years. Nevertheless, that’s the scenario claimed by vocalist Jim Kerr and multi-instrumentalists Charlie Burchill, the two ongoing mainstays of Scottish wunderkind Simple Minds. The new album under the band’s aegis, their 18th album to date, harkens back to the beginning, courtesy of a thoroughly sweeping sound that reflects the anthemic intensity that’s marked their music since the very beginning. 

That’s evident early on., from the sweeping sounds of the album’s ebullient opening salvo, “Vision Thing,” to the resounding call to arms that marks its final track, a cover of the Call’s triumphant victory hymn, “When the Walls Came Down.” In between, there are any number of masterful melodies shared as well. With the rich sonic textures, aural ambiance, and sense of righteous indignation, there’s a genuine sense of both poignancy and purpose. That’s not to be taken lightly. The darker designs of “Human Traffic” are offset by the rush of an insistent refrain and a surprisingly effective cameo from Sparks’ Russell Male. “Act of Love” aims at higher intents, even while driven along by a relentless rhythm. So too, “Solstice Kiss,” for all its seemingly dramatic intents, is a prog rock epic transposed within Simple Minds’ mystique, an epic experience for all to enjoy.

So too, if its title wasn’t already indicative of its meaning, “Who Killed Truth” is a haunting and harrowing example of a completely compelling and captivating example of what constitutes a  moving musical melange. 

At this stage in a career, most bands become mere echoes of their former selves, or worse yet, a parody of what they once were. Happily, that’s never been the case with Simple Minds. Granted, they haven’t hit the heights they climbed courtesy of such early mega milestones as Don’t You (Forget About Me),” “Glittering  Prize,” “Somewhere in Summertime,” “Waterfront,” and “Alive and Kicking.” No matter, Kerr, Burchill and their newer recruits still manage to stay true to the band’s overarched intents, but do so based on premise rather than pretense. That allows the music to resonate in ways that are driven and dynamic without any attempt at pandering or less-than-sincere designs. In that regard especially, Direction of the Heart is clearly inspired by avenues worth taking.

Photo by Gari Garaialde/Redferns

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