October 17, 2022 Simple Minds – Direction of the Heart (Album Review)
Even in the year 2022 the pioneering Scottish band Simple Minds are proving once again their prolificacy. Standing out among many of their batchmates that had long disbanded or faded out, currently – consisting of founders Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (guitars, keyboards), along with Ged Grimes (bass), Gordy Goudie (acoustic guitar), Cherisse Osei (drums), Berenice Scott (keyboards), as well as Sarah Brown (vocals) – they continue to travel a unique road. Formed in 1977, in Glasgow, during the development of the Post-Punk/ New Wave genre, Simple Minds has built an impressive discography of nineteen proper studio albums–from 1979’s Life in a Day to the forthcoming Direction of the Heart.
Slated to come out on October 21, 2022, via BMG Records, Simple Minds’ new record follows the heels of the energizing Walk Between Worlds of four years ago. Their eighteenth studio album of original material, and consisting of nine new songs, it opens with the midnight blue swagger of the lead single “Vision Thing,” which talks about revolutions and solutions, celebrating life amidst the world’s current strife. The sharp, shiny, melodic trademark guitar lines of Charlie Burchill then take precedent with the ensuing “First You Jump,” carrying a nostalgic streak and positive lyrical intent. And then there is the thematically confrontational and sonically textured and synth-driven “Human Traffic,” featuring Russell Mael of Sparks.
Later on, “Who Killed Truth?” is a slight change of mood–jangly, groove-oriented, funky; in fact, Jim Kerr’s voice is powerful and stellar as usual, soaring the same skies occupied by the likes of U2’s Bono, The Alarm’s Mike Peters, The Call’s Michael Been, and Cactus World News’ Eoin McEvoy. With “Solstice Kiss,” the listener is then treated to a relaxing, shimmering, and graceful New Wave balladry.
The Post-Punk energy continues with “Act of Love,” reminding the initiated of the beloved “Alive and Kicking” and “Sanctify Yourself” of old. Before wrapping up, the gang launches into something Synthpop-stylized, “Natural”; and then steps hard onto the accelerator, to activate the rockin’ stomper “Planet Zero.” Finally, Kerr and the whole Simple Minds crew finish off their new record with a faithful rendition of “The Walls Came Down”– a 1983 original by fellow Post-Punkers The Call.
Nearly half a century has passed since the rise of Post-Punk New Wave; and as stated, many that made the scene vibrant had long retired, and only a few were able to soldier on. Among these, which include Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, O.M.D., and U2, Simple Minds remains one of the most prolific. A charismatic group rises again, with Direction of the Heart in tow, and that is Cryptic Rock gives this exciting album 4 out of 5 stars.