Simple Minds

Life in a Day

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Simple Minds' astonishingly rapid ascent from humble and derivative post-punk to platinum and transcendent art pop is just as remarkable as the descent that followed it. More remarkable is the fact that a fair portion of the band's fans have such a strict discographical line in the sand drawn -- right at the chart-crashing masterpiece that is New Gold Dream -- where both sides overlap but don't dare cross. While fans of the band's earlier work essentially drop off with that record (and choose to live in blissful denial that the band existed after that), those on the other end are more or less oblivious to what's on the other side. So what's on that other, earlier side? Five studio albums released within the span of three years. Five studio albums that range from safe to bold, from impenetrable to accessible, from strange to puzzling, and from good to pee-your-pants phenomenal. Life in a Day, the first of the five records released during this fascinating pre-fame period of Simple Minds' career, is easily the least of the first five. On their debut, they seem to run with a template based on the jittery bounce of Roxy Music's "Virginia Plain" and the keyboard-accentuated lunatic punch of Magazine, a band that had released their own debut a year prior to Life in a Day. (Simple Minds would later release an album with the same title, Real Life. Coincidence?) Despite the growing pains, this is a skilled and assured assemblage of guitar-heavy post-punk, with Jim Kerr's over-caffeinated yelp taking the lead role. The arrangements are full, direct, and sharply executed. The high points: the teeter-tottering title track and the J. Geils Band-like swagger (honestly!) of "Someone." The low point: "Pleasantly Disturbed," an epic Velvet Underground-inspired limp that lasts eight very long minutes.

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