With the imminent release of the Rejuvenation vinyl box set, both Neon Lights and Cry have appeared on Spotify. For Neon lights – I think that may be a first…for Cry it’s a return after a brief stay around the end of 2016.
I’ve never really missed not having Cry on Spotify. It isn’t a Simple Minds album I have ever been overly enamoured with. As long as I was able to hear Spaceface on Spotify, that has always been enough for me. The 2013 release of “Greatest Hits+” also saw Cry and One Step Closer solidly in residence on Spotify, so exposure to those tracks has been fairly regular for me.
I didn’t get a copy of Cry straight away when I became “uber” fan. It was the early catalogue I ploughed my money into…chasing desirables like a first pressing release of Empires And Dance and Real To Real Cacophony…things like that.
I listened to Cry once or twice via YouTube and thought it was one I could hold back on obtaining.
I think I finally obtained a copy about a year into my fandom. I gave it a few listens and decided that, apart from the glorious Spaceface (which I absolutely adore), there wasn’t much else that held me.
I am always in two minds with doing this stuff. I generally don’t like to air my dislikes much (if you’ve got nothing nice to say, etc…) but I feel I own an explanation as to why. If I can do that. I mean, it’s not enough to say “just…because”. If I have genuine criticisms about the album, even 16 years after the fact…I should try and be articulate enough to explain why.
This blog post was born out of me listening to the album once again on Spotify this morning. It’s hard for me to be objective now and listen to it with fresh ears because I have now naturally grown a prejudice to it. Over the past four years I have listened to it maybe ten times – compare that to EAD, SAF/SFC and NGD (hundreds of listens) – and the prejudice sticks out like a sore thumb! The fact that it HASN’T been on Spotify hasn’t helped its plight.
This morning’s listen. Inwardly, I was praying something would take…there’d be an epiphany moment. IT HAS HAPPENED! With other songs in the SM catalogue. For some time I really could not stand No Cure on the Life In A Day album, but then one night, during one particular listen, something suddenly clicked…and then the complete opposite thing happened. It became an earworm and was stuck in my head for WEEKS. I kept playing it over and over and over. It tilted completely on axis from utter dislike and skipping the track to solid infatuation and constant, and I mean CONSTANT, play. The diehards reading this will say “Yeah, but it’s no Cocteau Twins, is it?”. Lol
Listening to Cry this morning, the overriding thing that struck me is…there’s no cohesion. That’s how I felt, personally. That’s what started the idea of me writing this post to explain why I still have a … THING …about this album. By the time I got to Face In The Sun, I was saying to myself “where’s the cohesion in this album? It’s just, literally, a collection of songs.”
I mean, compare it to Walk Between Worlds (if such a thing is possible…chalk and frigging cheese to me!) and there is NO CONTEST! The fluidity and cohesion of WBW pisses all over Cry! Sorry…but it just does.
Cry is very different from Spaceface, which is different to New Sunshine Morning, which is different to One Step Closer, which is MILES different to Face In The Sun…and on it goes through the whole album.
Track by track:
Cry – I just find it…meandering, and depressive. I am usually the type that LOVES depressive songs! But, for me to love a depressive song, it needs to have a strong emotional pull, and I don’t get that from Cry – certainly not this version of it anyway. You know what makes ME Cry? That Cry doesn’t make me cry…or give me ANY kind of emotive feeling at all. And that is just a horrible feeling for me as a Simple Minds fan. Love is one thing. Dislike is another. Both are visceral. But indifference? Awful. And…sadly…that is how Cry leaves me feeling…indifferent.
Spaceface – this could not be ANY different to how I feel about Cry! Spaceface makes me want to jump for joy, and dance, and celebrate life and be happy! Pure optimism. The magic of Simple Minds right there in just under 4 minutes of pure pop joy. “You’ll soon be home, I’ll be there, you’re not alone.” Those words meant the WHOLE WORLD to me when I was out in Oz in 2015/16. Like Jim’s personal re-assurance to me. And that is exactly how it felt! Like I was never alone and he was always there for me. THIS is the song that makes me cry! Tears of love and joy.
New Sunshine Morning – I want to like it! I should. It has optimism…but just in the chorus. Meant to be one his mum’s favourites…which always adds an extra pang of guilt for me not liking it so much. A song that asks for forgiveness…but with a new day, something of a “well, forgive me or not, I’m just getting on with life anyway…making the best of it I can”. Not sure how well I sit with that sentiment. But I think that’s Jim’s general approach on life…and one that has kept him in good steed, it seems.
One Step Closer – One realisation listening to this again, the conclusion I have reached is that I definitely prefer the album version to the Phunk Investigation mix. Yeah…I like OSC – there’s an ambiguity to it I like…I mean…One Step Closer to what, exactly? Paradise? Bliss? Sexual gratification? General contentment? I’m not really sure what he’s getting one step closer to…but that’s okay. I like it because, lyrically, it recaptures that ambiguous writing Jim is so great at.
Face In The Sun – I think Jim almost uses it as wordplay, because when he sings it, it sounds like FACING THE SUN…which makes more sense. Unless he was a huge Teletubbies fan and was referencing the Sun Baby? On Dream Giver it says Mark (yes, Jim nicked it from his little bro, again) had titled it “OK Lonely?” and the line within was “PLACE in the sun” but Jim changed it to “Face”. I’m gonna struggle at this point to say anything good about it. I love Happy Is The Man…and really like Angel Underneath My Skin (Mark Kerr’s other musical compositions, “pilfered” by his big bro)…but…I dunno. Face In The Sun just doesn’t do anything for me at all…other than make me want to switch off. Sorry 🙁
Disconnected – “Everybody needs to feel respected…not disconnected” which I am ALWAYS mindful of, setting out on an exercise like this! I love this band so, so much. Charlie is an incredible musician…highly underrated and really quite prolific as a songwriter. And I don’t really need to reiterate just how much I love and adore Jim. I love this song. It’s a track I’ll happily listen to. It’s dancey and funky and I love the words, the way Jim sings on it. It took me a while to be won round by it, because on the album it sits between my two least favourite tracks. In the songs I like on this album, it sits in third place.
Lazy Lately – I don’t know what to say? It probably is my least favourite song in the whole Simple Minds canon. Despite me saying earlier that Cry makes me indifferent….I could still probably get something from it. Then again. Lazy Lately sort of starts promising. I like the way the music sounds…but then it just gets a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy with that title. It becomes…U2-esque, Beatles-esque, Oasis-esque – and not in good ways. A parody…not a pastiche. A parody of itself. Sorry 🙁
Sugar – I *should* like it. I mean…there’s something there. Sugar can definitely be taken as metaphor. I should find it sexy AF…but I don’t. I don’t like the way he sings it. It seems trashy rather than sexy. Jesus…I’m gonna go to hell in a handcart for this stuff! He’ll hate me! 🙁 I do like the lyrics…but it just seems a bit, ordinary musically…and yeah. Sorry! 🙁
Sleeping Girl – After Spaceface, this is my most favourite track on the album. Again, it took me several listens to formulate that opinion and feeling. As with the whole Cry album, few to no lyrics where printed for the tracks. Simon on Dream Giver did his best at deciphering lyrics, but there are patches and obvious misheard lines. It leaves ambiguity with some tracks where lines are harder to decipher. I generally love that. And I like that about Sleeping Girl. Even if the words had been printed, they are still ambiguous in meaning. Where Sugar SHOULD be a sexy song for me – Sleeping Girl definitely is. The way he sings it, the ambiguity of the words, the musical structure, it totally hits the mark where Sugar fails.
Cry Again – slow, acoustic reprise of the album opener and title track. It offers a deeper melancholia than the opening track. I don’t think Jim has delivered a more deadpan and soft vocal. It kind of scares me in its bleakness. Of the two versions of Cry, at least this one doesn’t make me feel indifferent! I’m affected! But…something still kind of lacks…and I can’t put my finger on it.
Slave Nation – even for those in the fandom that like the Cry album…this seems to get panned…but I think I like it. I usually tend not to last this long into the album, so it really is not very familiar to me at all…but I do think I like it more than dislike it. There’s something about it. There’s an attitude to it I like.
The Floating World – I SWEAR I remember hearing this being played around the time…hearing it on the “chill out/Ibiza” stuff that I was into at that point. It’s of its time. Another that can get a panning by the fanbase…but, I think I like it.
In conclusion on the album…it kind of feels disjointed to me. No fluidity and cohesion to it. A stark case in point, the sandwich of Disconnected between Face In The Sun and Lazy Lately. It’s kind of the way the album flows (? Oxymoron?) for me…don’t like…like…don’t like…like…
In my order of preference, from love to :-/
Here’s my tracklisting:
One Step Closer
New Sunshine Morning
The Floating World
Face In The Sun