Perhaps call it embarrassment on my part, but the last time anything new by Simple Minds troubled my player was around the mid-80s. I think in truth I was going through a ‘not listening to chart bothering tunes phase’, which has pretty much stayed with me ever since, aside that I’ve never stuck around or pinned allegiances to brands and bands. And anyway, by the time ‘Belfast Child’ conquered all I was off in search of sounds anew.
Simple Minds played a small role in my formative listening years; you’ll often hear me using the term ‘ahead of the curve’ and for Kerr and Co. it was a justified description. Early releases revealed an artiness and a willingness to experiment fusing generic sound species that like-minded peers of their era avoided or lacked the verve to carry out.
Largely sitting outside the usual synth sound (appealing to both admiring tribes of Joy Division and mark one of Human League), Simple Minds offered a cooler proposition; their sounds were abstract and sometimes perplexed by the avoidance of your usual verse chorus verse format. Even in their early days despite their left of centre poise they still possessed enough pop nous to catch the passing ear lobe, even before ‘Sister Feelings Call’ / ‘Sons of Fascination’ (all said, my favourite set) had signposted their statement of intent the ensemble had tucked beneath their arms a formidable back catalogue of forward thinking albums totalling three.
Why I mention all this is because there was a slight trepidation in finding looming large on my player a new single, ‘Midnight Walking.’ Revisiting old heroes has, on numerous occasions, been a harrowing let down, and so you can probably understand the anxiety I faced, should I give it a try or just skip ahead and pretend I never saw it. Curiosity got the better – with a new album lurking in the guise of ‘Big Music.’
To recall Swimmer One’s ‘Psychogeography’ – from 2010’s essential landmark full length ‘Dead Orchestras’ – ‘Midnight Walking’ dwells upon themes of movement and migration and with it alienation and disconnection. In some respects it is the best and worst, rather more the ‘New Gold Dream’ in decay and reaching saturation level, a mirror opposite to the idealistic hope that rushed and ushered through the brightly futuristic viewfinder that was ‘Theme for Great Cities’.