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Simple Minds: Big Music

Kerr and co’s first album of new material for five years.

Simple Minds’ 16th album is being trumpeted as a return to form, but it recalls their commercial heyday, not their creative one.

Instead of Empires And Dance (1980) and their shimmering peak, New Gold Dream (1982), it recalls more blustery triumphs, particularly Sparkle In The Rain (1983), when they rivalled U2 in the stadium bombast stakes. You can hear the intention to evoke the dark propulsion and skeletal dread of I Travel, but instead of a delicate motorik pulse, you get a pummelling thump. Midnight Walking aims for the neon lightness of Kraftwerk, but quickly gives way to thunking as clunky as the rhymes (confusion/conclusion). The tracks have a strip-lit brightness, and all build towards giant, chanted choruses — hence Big Music. From a band for whom originality was once a given, instead we get rote grandeur and melodrama. Let The Day Begin is Waterfront revisited, while On The Rooftop, from its title on, virtually rewrites _Up On _The Catwalk, only minus the latter’s electrifying dynamic. It’s not bad, just plodding and proficient, projecting to an illusory massive audience that no longer exists, one to whom they once promised, and delivered, miracles.

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.