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The 16th album from Scotlands legendary electronic rock pioneers Simple Minds, and their first album of new material since 2009. The band hit #1 worldwide and in the US in the 80s & 90s with albums including Sparkle in the Rain and New Gold Dream. They have returned with Big Music, a swaggering collection that reiterates their world-class credentials, it is the culmination of a decade of stealthy rediscovery.
Made with an array of collaborators old and new including co-writer Iain Cook (of Glasgow band Chvrches) and producers Steve Osborne, Andy Wright and Steve Hillage (who worked on 1981's Sons And Fascination / Sister Feelings Call) Big Music is an irresistible mix of artistry and accessibility.
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This time, without much surprise, I found Big Music well worth having. On first listen it is reminiscent of Lost Boy and Graffiti Soul in many places but stands up as its own thing. There are shades of New Gold Dream and Sparkle in the Rain in places, too, which make it very much a Simple Minds album, albeit a bang up to date one. I suppose it is pretty much what anyone should expect of a band from the 1980s in 2014. The strongest songs are definitely at the beginning of the album but on repeated listening, the later tracks reveal themselves to be better than I first thought.
I've read a few reviews where people complain that they are using modern synth sounds, not the sounds from 30 years ago, but that's exactly what Simple Minds have always done. I remember the first time I heard Empires & Dance, it seemed like a bold, new future for music back then so it's more than a bit sad, I think, for anyone to expect them to stop trying to push boundaries. Big Music is a thoroughly modern sounding album, and all the better for it, whilst still managing to be recognisably the same band we all know and love from the 80s. It's not their best album but I reckon it is easily their best in 20 years or more and a welcome return to form.
The limited edition package I bought here is an absolute no-brainer. For less than the standard CD in a shop, I got an en extra CD with half-a-dozen new songs and a remix of Blindfolded, a DVD with some video clips and the obligatory "making of..." video, plus a fold out poster. If you are going to buy this album, this is definitely the package to get. Just give the album a bit of time to grow on you.