Review: Relationship between past and present is theme running through Simple Minds new album

Jim Kerr
Jim Kerr of Simple Minds.

Simple Minds

Walk Between Worlds

****

Simple Minds’ 18th studio album clocks in at a no-nonsense 42 minutes and sees the erstwhile arena rockers eagerly revert to epic first principles.

An Eighties-style sweep infuses Magic, a U2-meet-Coldplay-esque first single characterised by epic guitars from Charlie Burchill.

The same retro grandiosity informs The Signal And The Shape which, were it not for a funky keyboard motif at the outset, could have slotted into any of the group’s classic records.

This might suggest musicians covering old territory. Yet the very visible struggles through which their old friends and rival U2 have lately gone in attempting to capture their formative swagger is proof that going back isn’t always as easy as it seems.

The relationship between past and present is, in fact, one of the theme’s running through Walk Between Worlds.

Magic is described by the Kerr and Burchill as a meditation on their young selves and the hunger they possessed as fresh-faced musicians on the up; Sense of Discovery, the closing number written in the style of 1983’s Alive And Kicking LP, is from the perspective of veterans looking over their shoulders.

There are echoes, moreover, of U2’s Songs of Innocence, in which Bono ruminated on his youth, with Barrowland Star reflecting on Simple Mind’s definitive performances in the iconic Glasgow venue.

Simple Minds have had one of those trajectories that reads like a warning to any musician who finds the world at their feet sooner than expected.

Starting out, it was, after all, Kerr and Burchill who appeared a shoo-in for permanent superstardom, rather than Bono, The Edge et al.

Yet by the Nineties, their grip had slipped and, even as U2 went from strength to strength, Simple Minds became somewhat of a punchbag, in the media particularly.

It is to their credit that, rather taking this to heart, Simple Minds have put their heads down and pushed on They have, moreover, done so with an agreeable lack of drama — and for fans Walk Between Worlds is the sort of back to basics reprise of old glories they may have craved (without knowing they craved it).

Other rockers of their generation could do worse than take note.


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