Emma Pollock on Tears For Fears' The Hurting | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Emma Pollock on Tears For Fears’ The Hurting

Nov 04, 2010 Web Exclusive By Emma Pollock Bookmark and Share


(Under the Radar’s Summer 2010 Issue is a special issue named the Wasted on the Youth Issue that features musicians and actors talking about their childhood memories and things they loved when they were kids. We’re also posting web-exclusive essays that were not printed in the issue, including this one by Emma Pollock, former member of Scotland’s The Delgados, but now a solo artist.)

When I was in my early teens, just starting high school, I was a huge fan of music, but listening mainly to chart musicNik Kershaw, Duran Duran etc. I would sit religiously at the side of the radio every Sunday afternoon engrossed in the Top 40 chart rundown, singing along to the hits with the aid of inaccurate lyrics published by one of the popular teen magazines.

As the town I lived in, in southwest ScotlandCastle Douglashad only the chain store Woolworths selling music, I was pretty much limited to chart singles and albums when it came to spending what little pocket money I had. I enjoyed whatever music I bought at the time, but whether it was to stand the test of time was another thing entirely.

One day I chanced upon an album, The Hurting, by Tears For Fears. A very cool friend of mine had recommended this album, and so I dutifully bought it and walked home in curious anticipation.

The album was to become a mainstay in my cassette player for the following months. Whilst my past choice in music had been mostly a pretty easy listenthe usual sunny pop-music fare and often quite brilliant for itI had never come across music with an undercurrent such as that I heard on the debut from Tears For Fears.

With the stark and slightly eerie intro of the drums of first track “The Hurting” quickly leading into a wonderful combination of leading guitar and synth lines, I was utterly transfixed by the atmosphere this music could conjure. I would ask my parents to come in to the kitchen of an evening and share in the marvel of this very introduction. I’m not sure they quite appreciated it in the way I did, being traditional jazz fans, but I really wasn’t looking for their approval. I was already so sure that this music was the best out there, the most compelling and powerful that I just wanted to give them the opportunity to hear it too.

I very quickly went on to buy the green 7” vinyl single release of “Pale Shelter” which I covet to this day. Another fantastic example of traditional instruments (acoustic guitar and vocals) and synths, sequencers, and drum machines coming together to make a sharp, slick, brooding sound that was still unmistakably human when combined with the melody, voices and lyrics of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith.

I have a reissue of the album now on CD and with it comes a lot of information written by the editor of the then current popular teen mag Smash Hits. He writes a lot about his first impressions of the band, and his growing awareness of the darkness behind the lyrics. Both Orzabal and Smith grew up in broken families on a council estate in Bath. They were both in their early 20s when writing the album and were trying to deal with their still fresh childhood memories by reading the works of the psychotherapist Arthur Janov, who wrote the book “The Primal Scream.” Apparently they were trying to raise enough money with the record to visit New York or LA to get the therapy they’d only been able to read about in his books.

All of this detail completely escaped me of course when I was listening to it the first time round. What didn’t escape me, however, was the darkness of the music, the sense of tension and of a world just a little askew. The pop sensibility was never lost, though, which just made the whole presentation even more compelling. Here were these incredibly catchy tunes, which presented the darkest lyrics if you cared to dig a little deeper. I wasn’t one for analysing lyrics; I never have been, as I’m always way more interested in the music itself. However, learning about the background story to the album 27 years later doesn’t present as much of a surprise as I might have thought. That’s the thing about music itself that always astounds me; it doesn’t necessarily always need the lyric to convey something incredibly powerful with a surprising degree of accuracy.

Recently I bought a compilation of all the singles for the car, and my son who is 8 years old absolutely loved it and requested it be played constantly for weeks. Funnily enough, he warmed more to those tracks from “The Hurting” than the later material. I’m still trying to work out if that is a comment on my parenting skills.

(Emma Pollock was the vocalist/guitarist for Scotland’s The Delgados, who released five albums and were together from 1994 to 2005. Since the band’s breakup, Pollock has released two solo albums, the most recent being The Law of Large Numbers, released in March by Chemikal Underground.)



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December 1st 2010
2:15am

Something Has Changed – piano cover. Posted by starzmedia. I recently discovered this musician, his work is stunningly beautiful. This piano piece is one of my favorites of his.

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December 1st 2010
3:11pm

Aw, this was a really great post. In theory I’d like to write like this also - taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

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January 3rd 2011
7:04am

THE NEW ALBUM IS WONDERFUL!!! i love “the child in me” and “nine lives”, this song is really beautiful Facebook Layouts

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January 3rd 2011
9:04am

Wow. I think I hate you. Alun Woodward is one the greatest songwriters around, and his voice suits his songs perfectly. I pray that he gets around to doing a solo album MySpace Layouts

StephQJ
January 15th 2011
11:30pm

This album was really, really significant to me for a long time.  Listening to it makes me feel 15 again, in both good and bad ways. I’m always thrilled when I stumble across someone else who was moved by its beautiful simplicity.

Tiago Nunes
January 16th 2011
5:11am

I just looooooooooooooooove “The Hurting”, from Tears For Fears. One of their best albums, evaaaa!!!

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August 4th 2011
10:26am

I like to imagine if i were actually alive in a conscious sense in the 1980’s i would definitely listen to this album, as well as a load of post punk, whilst sneering at the burgeoning new romantic scene..to be quickly shocked as this band themselves became quite involved in new romanticism..i would then distance myself from them though still secretly fucking love this and the other 2 classic albums.

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August 9th 2011
4:37pm

When I was in my early teens, just starting high school, I was a huge fan of music, but listening mainly to chart music-Nik Kershaw, Duran Duran etc. I would sit religiously at the side of the radio every Sunday afternoon engrossed in the Top 40 chart rundown, singing along to the hits with the aid of inaccurate lyrics published by one of the popular teen magazines.

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August 25th 2011
4:35pm

Low the Radar’s Summer 2010 Income is a specific take titled the Lost on the Youth Emerge that features musicians and actors talking roughly their childhood memories and things they precious when they were kids. We’re also transmission web-exclusive essays that were not printed in the store, including this one by Emma Painter, previous member of Scotland’s The Delgado, but now a unaccompanied artist.

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October 6th 2011
5:25am

The album was to become a backbone in my video player for the succeeding months. Whilst my recent superior in euphony had been mostly a pretty loose listen-the regular sunny pop-music fare and often quite brilliant for it-I had never grow crossways music with an undercurrent specified as that I heard on the commencement from Tears For Fears.

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October 6th 2011
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he album was to get a lynchpin in my video contestant for the pursuing months. Whilst my old superior in music had been mostly a pretty wanton listen-the usual sunny pop-music docket and oft quite magnificent for it-I had never move crosswise penalty with an substance much as that I heard on the entry from Tears For Fears.

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October 11th 2011
8:24am

Scotland produces some excellent musicians that have a slightly melancholic tone to their music. Being from Finland myself, this is somewhat similar to the Finnish mentality.

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November 6th 2011
5:08am

The album was to become a supporter in my cassette participant for the succeeding months. Whilst my sometime pick in penalty had been mostly a pretty gentle listen-the regular sunny pop-music agenda and oft quite impressive for it-I had never amount crosswise music with an undercurrent such as that I heard on the debut from Tears For Fears.

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December 7th 2011
6:05am

I bought a collection of all the singles for the car, and my son who is 8 eld old absolutely preferred it and requested it be played constantly for weeks. Funnily enough, he warmed writer to those tracks from “The Hurting” than the afterwards substantial. I’m works trying to learning out if that is a observe on my parenting skills.

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