‘Direction Of The Heart’ is the new nine track album from Scottish stalwarts Simple Minds. This Caledonian combo were at the forefront of the late 70’s/early 80’s post punk movement and those first five albums still stand as stellar moments in the aural annals.
As the proud owner of countless long players by a diverse range of artists, it’s the likes of ‘Sons & Fascination’ plus its sidekick ‘Sister Feelings Call’ that still get regular plays several decades on – and, their tunes and techniques remain as mesmerising.
In 2022, frontman Jim Kerr states: “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?” So, over 40 years on what of the fresh work recorded at Hamburg’s Chameleon Studios?
The single ‘Vision Thing’ maintains the momentum of early enterprise with the sonics from there forward being of a more ‘Sparkle in the Rain’ and ‘Once upon a Time’ mid 80’s era style. Meanwhile, Kerr directs his lyrics in honour of his sadly departed dad. The other stab at the charts is ‘First you Jump’ and that too has that anthemic feel and the touches of Roxy Music, Ultravox and Magazine also coat the contents from start to finish. ‘Human Traffic’ introduces Russell Mael of Sparks, and a cover of The Call’s 1983 single ‘The Walls Came Down’ closing the set.
In between rock takes over electro with an aim for the hard hitter soaring via ‘Solstice Kiss’ with ‘Art of Love’, ‘Natural’ and ‘Planet Zero’ in hot pursuit. Charlie Burchill (who along with Kerr, are the chief partners in Minds momentum) sets the standards with his six string surge. A solid sound aids a band that has moved from alternative club origins to major stadium status – and, on occasions strayed far away from their angular alternative, rhythmic roots.
Simple Minds still want to push the envelope but they can also drive along a more mainstream orientated aural autobahn. However, when it all comes together it is more a direction of the art – and, that journey creates a tapestry of tunes that still warrant attention. A dance core is supplemented by synth surrounds, percussive peripheries, vibrant vocals, bass bombast, guitar glides and female fire floating over the surface.
The band does not move towards the minimal, for this is a groove that goes for the grandiose. To the doubters, please do not write off the old guard as they are still capable of delivering a ‘Glittering Prize’.