Album review: Simple Minds - Big Music
PUBLISHED: 11:30 17 November 2014
Scots synth titans go through the motions on their new studio LP.
Some 37 years into their career, the prevailing critical wind seems to be turning back in Simple Minds’ favour after years exiled to pop culture’s tundra; featured by the NME as one of the world’s 100 most influential bands, bagging a Q magazine award and with the likes of The Horrors, The Killers, King Creosote, Primal Scream, Radiohead and Manic Street Preachers all confessing their soft spots for them, Big Music is ebullient, if a little stale around the edges.
While nothing approaches their stadium-shaking ‘80s standouts Alive And Kicking or Don’t You (Forget About Me) for sheer bravado and simple, sledgehammer impact, Big Music is bold and poppy, with a straightforward reliance on big drums, big synths and Kerr’s distinctive vocals (although for the most part he reins in his portentous boom).
Opening track Blindfolded is strident, heart-on-sleeve pop and lead single Honest Town, co-written with fellow Scot Iain Cook of electropop darlings Chvrches, is inspired by memories of Kerr’s late mother and best distils the modern take on emotionally wrought electro.
That’s as good as it gets, though. Elsewhere, the uplifting Let The Day Begin repositions the primary-coloured optimism of OMD’s Sailing On The Seven Seas, but frustratingly both the title track and Human are bereft of ideas or musical invention.
There’s a lot of plodding electro soft rock that soars open-hearted towards the stadium rafters, blind to the power lines in the way, and the album as a whole shakily treads an unsteady tightrope between fashionably emotive synth-pop and its uncomfortably naff sister.