Direction Of The Heart is the band’s eighteenth studio album and Simple Minds’ first album of new material since 2018’s outstanding UK Top 5 album Walk Between Worlds. Throughout its nine tracks Direction of The Heart finds the band at their most confident, anthemic best on an inspired celebration of life.
The story of Direction Of The Heart spans several years, and various locations, in Germany, Italy, and the UK. Album opener ‘Vision Thing’ was created by Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill at the former’s father’s house, when Kerr senior was terminally ill. Looking through early band cuttings his parents had kept, it became about Jim looking at his father as a version of him and looking at his younger self. The song’s urgent electronic pulse transports an intricately decorated, deeply poignant melody. The song is a celebration, but with sad tones in the words. For Kerr, that’s a sweet place.
‘Vision Thing’ sets the pace for a concise nine-track album. One which manages to perfectly encapsulate the essence of past and present Simple Minds, a band whose reascent over the past 10 years has seen them, once again, capture the magic and critical praise of their early days.
Direction Of The Heart’s predominant mood is simultaneously reflective and euphoric, framing the personal in a universal context: qualities intrinsic to all the great Simple Minds records of the past, now recalibrating the band for its next era. Our hyper-stressed Zeitgeist bleeds into chattering rhythms and skyburst melody clusters on ‘Planet Zero’ – “I saw a whole world on fire” – and the electro-rock fusion of ‘Who Killed Truth’. With Celtic textures underpinning its widescreen melodrama and Sarah Brown’s infernal vocals, ‘Solstice Kiss’ is a Bond theme in-waiting. Meanwhile, the parabolic drive of ‘First You Jump’ – a Kerr-Burchill co-write with the band’s long-time bassist Ged Grimes – frames a classic transcendent Simple Minds anthem, one about the anxiety of the times and how we will rise above them.
No song better epitomizes the record’s gallows jauntiness than ‘Human Traffic’, a spangly hand-jive bop through the days of the week, inspired by JG Ballard and with a vocal cameo from Russell Mael of Sparks. There’s a real pop element to it, something the band are not scared to embrace as they get older.
The other notable collaboration is a kind of on-going *in memoriam*: album closer ‘The Walls Came Down’, written in 1983 by kindred spirit, the late Michael Been, whose band The Call supported Simple Minds in the US, and whose ‘Let The Day Begin’ was covered on 2014’s Big Music. With an apocalyptic techno-rock arrangement and prescient lyrics, it’s a perfect fit. Originally the song was an attack against Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, but fast forward decades are in a world of Donald Trump starting to build walls, Orbán in Hungary building walls, and Nigel Farage wanting to build some kind of walls, sadly the song seems to have found its time.
The energy levels on Direction Of The Heart send most songs into the 120-130 BPM range. Burchill thinks it’s partly the unusual circumstances of the album’s creation. Kerr, meanwhile, points to a “growing confidence” in the band’s capabilities, instilled by Big Music and 2018’s Walk Between Worlds renewing Simple Minds as a dynamic contemporary force, thanks partly to engaging with the sounds and spirits that compelled them in earlier, hungrier times.
That process finds its ultimate expression on Direction Of The Heart’s pivotal ‘Act Of Love’, a song written by Kerr and Burchill in Glasgow during late 1977 and performed as the opening song of their first ever gig, which now exemplifies their current vitality.
Forty-five years on, Simple Minds remain an act of love, with all the thrills and jeopardy that entails. Direction Of The Heart is a dizzying, uplifting spectacle, built from innocence and experience to stare down the darkness without fear. And the album title? “‘Direction of the heart’ was a line we’ve had for a long time,” says Jim Kerr. “Follow your own path and get through it – that, in a nutshell, sums up all we’ve ever done.”
- Vision Thing
- First You Jump
- Human Traffic (featuring Russell Mael of Sparks)
- Who Killed Truth?
- Solstice Kiss
- Act Of Love
- Planet Zero
- The Walls Came Down (written and originally recorded by The Call)
Direction Of The Heart is available on CD, Deluxe CD with two extra tracks and a hardback book, vinyl including coloured vinyl, and cassette.
Bonus tracks on Deluxe edition/s:
- Direction Of The Heart (Taormina 2022)
ABOUT SIMPLE MINDS:
Over the past 10 years Simple Minds have rekindled the magic that made them a vital artistic force in their early days, found themselves referenced by younger artists and playing to tens of thousands of people every year, all over the world. They have been the recipient of the Q Awards Lifetime Achievement and received universal critical acclaim for their recent albums. 2015’s Big Music was described by MOJO magazine as “their best album in 30 years”, and 2018’s Walk Between Worlds was acclaimed across the board and became their most successful album in over two decades, culminating in their largest US tour to date.
Simple Minds: Jim Kerr (vocals), Charlie Burchill (guitars, keyboards), Gordy Goudie (acoustic guitar), Ged Grimes (bass), Cherisse Osei (drums), Berenice Scott (keyboards) and Sarah Brown (vocals).