Simple Minds

Sons and Fascination

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For their fourth album in three years, Simple Minds signed on with Virgin and enlisted Gong's Steve Hillage as producer. The sessions continued the group's impressive run of high-quality output, but there are instances where ambition gets the best of them. Though their work with Hillage hardly spawned anything on a plane with the two albums that preceded it and the one that followed it, it's still a substantial piece of the Simple Minds puzzle. Bridging the art disco of Empires and Dance with the pop masterpiece New Gold Dream, the album falters when the band seems to be reaching a bit too far for their own good. The other stumbling block is Hillage's production: Where the basslines of Empires and Dance snapped and tugged and where the drums hit with brisk smacks and thick thumps, the echo-gauze of the production work diminishes the impact of the band's greatest asset and makes everything sound bigger and busier than necessary. (The massive qualities of New Gold Dream sound much more natural and less forced in comparison.) The record isn't without moments of brilliance, like the exquisitely detailed "70 Cities As Love Brings the Fall" (a great balance between grand melodies and bizarre noise), the insistently snaking "In Trance As Mission," and "Sweat in Bullet," which has sparkling keyboard parts and crafty guitar interplay. Aside from these moments, the mind tends to wander and wonder if the band was trying to do too much. Upon its release, Sons and Fascination was issued for a limited time with a bonus LP, the scattered Sister Feelings Call, which includes a great pre-Sons and Fascination A-side ("The American").

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