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.