Album Title: Graffiti Soul
Artist: Simple Minds
Running Time: 42m 52s
Track listing: 1 Moskow Underground; 2 Rockets; 3 Stars Will Lead the Way; 4 Light Travels; 5 Kiss and Fly; 6 Graffiti Soul; 7 Blood Type O; 8 This is It; 9 Shadows and Light (bonus track); 10 Rockin’ in the Free World (bonus track)
I come from a position of ignorance with respect to Simple Minds. I liked the Breakfast Club song, didn’t like the Belfast song, loved the song about the girl who resembled a waterway and wasn’t overly keen on the Sky Sports football track.
Simple Minds found worldwide success with the 1985 hit single “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” which preceded their seventh and most successful album to date, “Once Upon a Time”. After recording a string of further UK hit albums throughout the next decade the band then fell out of fashion and later work like “Neapolis”, “Cry” and “Black And White” made little impact on the charts.
“Graffiti Soul” is the 16th studio album release of their thirty year career and with the recent resurgence of bands like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and a-ha, the ground is once again fertile for Simple Minds to make their mark.
The album opens with “Moskow Undergroud”, a sonic minefield steeped in guitars and synths with a thumping, ominous rhythm providing the backdrop for the “world of darkened places” and the “world that’s lost control”. “Rockets” is more in the line of upbeat disco-rock with a killer melody, plush bridge and hand-clapping chorus- a modern-day classic.
There were many comparisons made to U2 over the years and this is no more evident than on the arena anthems “Stars Will Lead the Way” and “This is It”, right down to Charlie Burchill’s lead guitar hooks and Jim Kerr’s smouldering vocals. “Kiss and Fly” could have been an “Achtung Baby” outtake although it saunters somewhat uneventfully until the chorus, which just about saves the track from average territory.
“Light Travels” starts with a minimalistic 80s rhythm line and a lone guitar. “Light travels through the universe/It arrives, it remains” sings Kerr as he walks the thin line between logic and preposterousness. The rest of the band join in for the uplifting chorus (“There’s no need to worry/Hello, hello; is anybody home?“) and another recommended track is born.
The title track is a so-so number that fumbles with a strained lyric about “things written on the wall…in my graffiti soul” and a downright puzzling chorus refrain of “you bring me lightning“. But “Blood Type O” is an exceptional tune that wanders back in to darker territory with an electronic feel that recalls Depeche Mode.
Although the basic record seems to only be eight tracks, two so-called “bonus tracks” are included. “Shadows and Light” is a fine song that sounds like post-grunge Pearl Jam and their cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” can’t really be faulted even if the last thing the world needed was another cover of this track.
Most of the tracks are characterised by clever production effects, strong instrumentation and songwriting. It might be my first Simple Minds record but it won’t be my last.