Hey, they told you not to forget about them. But I suppose you could be forgiven if you have, because Scotland’s Simple Minds have been a bit out of the spotlight for the last few years, at least here in the States. Sure, they put out an album of favorite cover songs last year, but for their last album of originals, you have to go all the way back to 1998 and the mediocre Neapolis.
But the band is still, ahem, alive and kicking, more or less. Now consisting primarily of charismatic frontman Jim Kerr and original guitarist Charlie Burchill, Simple Minds enlists a slew of drum programmers and remix artists on Cry to produce an updated retro sound that isn’t what you might expect. Unfortunately, it’s not very good, either.
The title track appears in both a technofied version with a cheesy, nagging keyboard riff and a much more low-key, acoustic-flavored version. But neither version can hide the fact that the song isn’t all that exciting.
The dance groove-oriented “One Step Closer” sports a catchy chorus and lots of effects on Kerr’s vocals. But as on most of the rest of the disc, it’s curiously lacking in the passion that defined the bandÃs best work. Sure Kerr might sound out of place trying to over-emote like Bono in 2002, but that would certainly be more interesting than the robotic vocals he turns in on the appropriately-titled “Disconnected.” “Face in the Sun” is a better Kerr showcase, with just some acoustic guitar and a drum machine pattern backing his unadorned but showy vocals.
But for a band that once produced the politically-themed Street Fighting Years, the lyrics on Cry often seem disposably lame. “Sha-la-la, I still can’t enough/Lover I got sugar on the brain,” Kerr sings on “Sugar.”
Elsewhere, “Slave Nation” sounds like a bunch of white guys trying to sound like Prince. And the Vince Clarke-penned “The Floating World” ups the beats per minute and incorporates lots of old school synth blips but it proves to be a rather pointless dance instrumental.
Ultimately Cry is an album that seems both likely to disappoint those yearning for an ’80s flashback and unlikely to break the band to a new audience.