- 25 Feb 22
The world is a very different place in 2022 than it was when Tears For Fears released their last record, 2004’s Everybody Loves A Happy Ending, not to mind what it was like back in the eighties when they were at their height. I’m not sure if you’d know that had you been living in a cave for the last few decades and emerged to hear the title track of this album when it was released as a single back in October. There’s a few slight concessions to electronica before the mid-paced chug they favoured back in the day takes over. Lyrically, it deals with the tragedy of Roland Orzabal’s wife’s passing in 2017 and if the song - and this album as a whole - offers catharsis and some small comfort to the man then that justifies its existence on its own, but it doesn't measure up against their past triumphs.
‘No Small Thing’ is apparently the result of Orzabal and partner Curt Smith writing together on an acoustic guitar for the first time in decades but again it’s passable rather than memorable. ‘Break The Man’ is an improvement, with a chorus that might, in time, worm its way in, but Tears For Fears used to make that kind of brain burrowing sound effortless.
The bass and keyboard washes of the Peter Gabriely 'Rivers Of Mercy' are a better bet, and when the guitar breaks through one can hear feint but welcome echoes of the “so free her” section of ‘Woman In Chains’. On the other hand, while the strings and muted trumpet of ‘Please Be Happy’ stand out at first, repeated listening arouses the suspicion that those instruments may be propping up a slight construction rather than embellishing a stable one.
‘Master Plan’ sounds a bit like Noel Gallagher trying to sound like the Beatles, which is disappointing from the band whose ‘Sowing The Seeds Of Love’ was one of the great Fabs pastiches, and you’ll forget ‘End Of Night’ while you’re still listening to it, and want to do the same with 'My Demons'. The closing ‘Stay’ was originally recorded for a Best Of album, but given their previous achievements, it's hard to see how it deserves that accolade.
The problem is nothing really emerges in the way that say ‘Head Over Heels’ did, to stick in the ear forever. It all sounds pleasant enough, and some will marvel at the production as it oozes from their speakers, but The Tipping Point will drift past others. Heartfelt as it no doubt is, this is unlikely to replace those first three albums in the majority’s affections.