Release Date: Feb 2, 2018
Record label: BMG Rights Management
After a decade-and-a-half of faltering and making records by trial and error, Simple Minds regained their sanity and rediscovered the anthemic, synth-drenched Euro dance-rock sound that made them a chart staple during the early '80s. Oddly, they wandered off the path with the lazy Acoustic two years later. Walk Between Worlds finds them on much surer footing, regaining much of the energy that infused their great run of albums between 1979's Real to Real Cacophony and 1985's Once Upon a Time.
"The Signal and the Noise," one of the key tracks on Walk Between Worlds, the 18th studio album from Scottish pop group Simple Minds finds singer Jim Kerr imploring listeners to remove their headphones and "let this world pour into you," and, in the chorus, landing on this crucial lyrical turn: "There's a feeling that takes over/and it has no fear/when you're caught between the signal and the noise. " Considering his band's place in the modern music industry, Kerr may well be singing to himself on that tune. When you've been fronting a band for just over four decades and are still best known (here in the States, at least) for a few radio hits from the mid '80s, you have to have a will of iron to keep putting new material out into the world.
Watching your favourite bands from your youth slowly succumb to old age and mediocrity is an experience more and more of us have to endure as we age in turn. Incredibly, Simple Minds passed through this phase somewhat, emerging on the other side in a state none of us could have foretold. With the stark decline in the quality of their albums post Once Upon A Time (1985), has-beens is the phrase that came to mind – a classic example of a band you wished would call it a day to save themselves from a U2-sized latter-day career embarrassment.
It's taken Simple Minds almost 40 years to journey from almost-avant Krautrockers through their hobnailed pop hits phase and subsequent wilderness period to today where Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill are elder statesmen who've come to terms with their past, while making their best music of the century. In fact they're so at ease with themselves that Walk Between Worlds' impossibly catchy opener Magic nods cheekily to their Someone Somewhere In Summertime, and chiming closer Sense Of Discovery borrows liberally from Alive & Kicking. Between the impish fun of the bookends there's a treasure trove of tightly woven, densely layered anthems anchored by Ged Grimes's bass, Burchill's twinkling guitar and the inevitable keyboard swirl.
Having long been dismissed in some quarters as a byword for bombast, Simple Minds seemed to have made peace with their place in the pop firmament. Their last album, 2014's acclaimed Big Music, did exactly what it said on the tin, so it's perhaps a surprise that Walk Between Worlds should arrive in a spectrum of more varied hues. The opening Magic has the requisite chorus anthem but is also a touch reserved, if that's not a contradiction in terms, and could feasibly have been lifted from a late-period Prefab Sprout collection.