By Vlad T, Rock At Night Detroit
Music Review: Simple Minds’ album Direction of the Heart-Release date October 21, 2022
Never ones to be complacent, Scottish legends Simple Minds have amassed a considerable legacy by progressively building on their succession of commercial and artistic high points, infusing fresh elements into each new release while managing to keep their sonic identity.
The newest release, Direction of the Heart, finds band principals Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill marshaling energetic new sounds and rhythms. Having each resettled in the sun-kissed hills of Sicily some years back, they clearly allowed the environment to shape their newest material—conceived in a pandemic exile from the UK—in different ways from their classic, atmospheric sound of the 80s and 90s. Considering their neighbor is ever-volcanic Mount Etna, it would be a natural and organic development for the new material to carry some lava to the ears and heart.
And that’s exactly what we hear in tracks such as “Vision Thing” (an energetic remembrance of Kerr’s father), the world-turned-upside-down of “Human Traffic” (featuring Sparks’ Russell Mael), and the buzzing space rock of “Planet Zero” (whose lyrics wouldn’t be out of place on Empires And Dance early in their career).
Indeed, we experience a directness that the longstanding backing band delivers convincingly. And Kerr—he of the sweetest of voices—has developed a few new vocal shadings in his repertoire that suggest a forthcoming phase similar to late-period Bowie might await audiences.
Five decades into their glorious adventure as a band, the Simple Minds continue to grow and be relevant. Direction of the Heart is perhaps a little less Scotland and little more Mediterranean, but this global-friendly sound—with trademark choruses still there—will help ensure the Minds remain a premiere draw around the world—and especially the continent.
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