Simple Minds – Walk Between Worlds review
That Simple Minds trade in instantly familiar methodology has, at times, left them sounding predictable.
Though 2014’s Big Music – with its great, big, you-can’t- miss-it signpost of a title – was welcomed in some quarters as a return to form, it still felt stiff and flabby, like a once svelte, now out-of-shape athlete recovering from their first long run after a holiday.
They’ve kept busy, however, with 2016 devoted to an acoustic album and related tours, and it appears they’re now approaching full fitness.
“Walk Between Worlds finds them, after 40 years in the game, in as good a form as anyone could hope. Not that they’ve changed their tactics.” – Wyndham Wallace
Guitars chime hypnotically and Jim Kerr still sings like a grown man seeing snow for the first time, letting rip uncontainable disbelief. On the U2-like Summer this excitement is almost poignant, the song’s forecast bellowed like news of his first-born son – “Here comes summer!/ Here comes rain!” – before Kerr ends up charmingly, naively tongue-tied: “Here comes lightning! I like the way it shoots!”
If his grammatically challenged over-stretching for rhymes might seem gauche – “Here comes all those fantasies/ Taking me to my roots” – it’s overshadowed by the song’s strapping melody and the revelation that finally someone might challenge fellow Scots Travis for pop’s meteorological crown.
Indeed, there’s climate talk all over the album, from the pumping opener Magic (“It breaks like a storm/ This is our kind of weather”) to Kerr’s insistence – on Sense Of Discovery, a solemn slowburner which borrows knowingly from Alive And Kicking, and one of the album’s two longest tracks – that: “The rage will dissolve like the wind”.
The calmly iridescent Utopia also points at “solar storms” and “falling snow”, while a heavy “freeze” bites on In Dreams, the full-bodied positivity of its choruses capitalising on Kerr’s glowering delivery elsewhere. Fortunately, Simple Minds don’t take the weather with them everywhere they go.
On Barrowland Star, the album’s swaggering highlight, they instead celebrate their career, allowing strings and Charlie Burchill’s extended – and we mean Andrex-long – guitar solo to provide the elemental sturm und drang.
Like everything on the otherwise trim, 42-minute Walk Between Worlds, it’s as familiar as April showers, but currently it’s the band’s glittering early-80s catalogue being mined for inspiration. The outlook remains bright, therefore, albeit with occasionally drab spells.