Let me see those hands. As ever, Simple Minds provide a stirring of the blood as we emerge from turbulent times.
Release Date: 21st October 2022
Format: digital / CD / deluxe CD / vinyl
“How to make a feel-good ‘Electro-rock’ record, during the very worst of times? Direction Of The Heart is the result of that challenge. Who would have thought we’d have so much fun creating it?” says Jim Kerr of Simple Minds’ first album since 2018’s Between Two Worlds. Much of Direction Of The Heart emerges from Jim and Charlie Burchill’s Sicilian base (…nice) as they’re reduced down to a core duo. However, the live band come to the party with contributions from bassist and co-writer on two songs Ged Grimes, drummer Cherisse Osei, and vocalist Sarah Brown joined them from London.
It’s an ebullient collection. Charlie talks of a boost in the energy levels and how much of the record sees songs hitting the 120-130 BPM range for anyone with a penchant for that sort of data. The controlled bounce of Vision Thing introduces a Simple Minds for 2022. Sitting atop their signature keyboard washes of velvet lushness, the throb of First You Jump might take some back to the days and the gigs when they shared a bill with U2 back in the early Eighties. Those two tracks re-establish the credentials as Russell Mael of Sparks then jumps on board to add a cameo to the pop fizz of Human Traffic that could just as easily have come from a Bon Jovi record just missing with Noo Joisey drawl – and a conscience.
These days, you won’t find the outwardly and occasionally clumsy, political drum bashing, or Simple Minds seeking out a major mission, but you’ll never be too far from something insightful-ish as they ask Who Killed Truth? where the dashes of crescendo accompany a chugging pulse.
Those pre-Mandela, formative days, urgent electronics and a heightened vocal presence, are re-enacted on Act Of Love, written by Kerr and Burchill in Glasgow during late 1977 and performed as the opening song of their first ever gig. Full circle and all that, a second notable collaboration is The Walls Came Down written in 1983 by kindred spirit, the late Michael Been, whose band The Call supported Simple Minds, and whose Let The Day Begin was covered on 2014’s Big Music. Like the latter song, we may have stumbled on the new set opener delivered with a spirit of Bowie in Berlin. Originally written as an attack against Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the decades of Donald Trump starting to build walls, Orbán in Hungary building walls, and Nigel Farage wanting to build some kind of walls are no kinder and the song seems to have found its time. “We get dumb heads thinking” indeed and all fired by a singalong that the masses will lap up.
Direction… typifies the appeal to the emotions and offers big dollops of communal celebration and camaraderie that come with Waterfront, Alive And Kicking and Belfast Child. The latter is possibly acknowledged in Solstice Kiss – some have suggested a potential Bond theme here – where the Celtic mood and distant thunder give way to a rolling anthem in the traditional fashion. It’s probably where Jim will justifiably utter the immortal ‘let me see those hands’. Quite right too. It’s a grand See The Lights/Let There Be Love latter-day coming together and surely we’re going to see it as the set closer before they encore with a hit or two.
A remarkable forty-five years on, find Simple Minds – Jim and Charlie – choosing an apt title in Direction Of The Heart; it could have been ‘The Italian Job’ , but they’re following a path, a destiny, avoiding the same old scene. With a smattering of stone-cold classics, Simple Minds, as ever, make their statement with the same aplomb and conviction they’re done for those decades past.
The first single – First You Jump: