tue 04/08/2020

CD: Simple Minds – Walk Between Worlds | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Simple Minds – Walk Between Worlds

CD: Simple Minds – Walk Between Worlds

The last gang in Glasgow play it true to form and to a stadium crowd

"I know it's fancy dress, I've come as the test card.""

With the possible exception of Talking Heads, I can’t think of another band who had such an exceptional run of early albums as Simple Minds. After a promising but uneven debut, they released Real to Real Cacophony in 1979 and barely put a foot wrong for five (some might argue six) albums.

Big Music (2014) was a knowing look over a shoulder; a direct reference to the stark electronic thrum of their early albums, and one which largely eschewed the later stadium pomp. In doing so, it was open to accusations of mannered pastiche – some thought it an odd choice for a band that had once set so much store in momentum. However, revisionism has always played a part in Simple Minds’ career – listen to “I Travel” from 1980, next to “Ghost Dancing” from 1985, for example, and the calculated call backs are crystal clear.

With just Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill remaining from previous line-ups, new album Walk Between Worlds sees another shift in dynamics as they move their main point of reference forward a few years and revisit their mid-Eighties bombast. Lead single “Magic” is a seemingly schizophrenic opening: the verse sounds like a Flying Birds update of Oasis’s “Supersonic”, while the chorus distils the very essence of classic Simple Minds, so much so that Jim Kerr actually echoes the “Hey, hey, hey” refrain from “Don’t You Forget About Me”. And the sense of déjà vu doesn’t stop there. “Sense of Discovery” borrows heavily from “Alive and Kicking” (from Once Upon a Time); while “Barrowland” is reminiscent of Street Fighting Years – at least in as much as it’s ponderous, overlong and sits uneasily among other, much better, songs. Of those, the pick of the bunch are “Summer” and “The Signal and the Noise”, which marry well the mechanic drive and dramatic swell that has defined Simple Minds’ best work.

The main complaint is the degree to which the production dominates the songs. It’s HUGE and, at times, makes their big-stadium breakthrough Once Upon a Time sound like it was recorded on an austerity budget, with Iain Duncan Smith doling out reverb with all the unfettered generosity of a Dickensian workhouse overseer.

Which leaves us with a question. Is this any more than a fond reminiscence? Does Walk Between Worlds stand as a good album on its own terms? Well, some of it is very good, but as a whole? Let’s just say it’s good enough. For now.


 Overleaf: Watch the video for Simple Minds' "Magic"

The better songs marry well the mechanic drive and dramatic swell that has defined Simple Minds’ best work


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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