fri 23/02/2024

Album: Simple Minds - Direction of the Heart | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Simple Minds - Direction of the Heart

Album: Simple Minds - Direction of the Heart

The Scottish rock band's 18th album might be uneven, but it's still a cause for celebration

You’d be within your rights to imagine that Direction of the Heart, the follow-up to 2018’s patchy-but-decent Walk Between Worlds, would see the Simple Minds twin engine of Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill pull on billowing white shirts and head for the nearest massive windswept stadium, filling it to the brim with widescreen synths, anthemic singalong choruses and a staggering extravagance of emotion.

And you’d be about right. After all, when you get to album number 18, no one’s expecting a volte-face, and no one particularly wants one either. Similarly, however, no one expects a classic. So it comes as something of a surprise to discover that Direction of the Heart delivers some of Simple Minds’ best moments in recent years – even if one of those moments is 45 years old.

These include opener “Vision Thing”, a tribute to Kerr’s late father, in which the expansive, opening chords, driving kick-drum and pulsing bass are filled with fond familiarity, Alan Parsons-esque flourishes and expansive, polished production. Then there’s “First You Jump”, with Burchill’s guitar squalls and Kerr’s confident vocal phrasing pitching us back to the 1980s, a time when melancholy could be technicolour and Simple Minds’ closest rock rivals were U2.

Going back even further, to 1977 in fact, “Act of Love” was the first song the band ever played live. For a year or more, it was their calling card, before boredom caused it to be shelved, and then forgotten. Here, dusted down and placed on parade, it survives the test of time rather better than much of their debut LP, Life in a Day. What could have been a simple curio is, in fact, something of a showstopper. 

To be clear, this is uneven territory and not everything kicks with the same vigour. “Human Traffic”, with a cameo vocal from bright Spark Russell Mael will, no doubt, turn heads, but in all honesty feels pretty pedestrian by comparison with many of its bedfellows. Sure, it makes all the right sounds, in the right order and at the right time, but Simple Minds aren’t about choreography – they’re about big emotions and performative passion. And while they might not hit those high notes every time, when they’re good, they’re very, very good.

'Direction of the Heart' delivers some of Simple Minds’ best moments in recent years – even if one of those moments is 45 years old

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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