Tears for Fears: The Tipping Point (Concord) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Tears for Fears

The Tipping Point


Feb 23, 2022 Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue Bookmark and Share

When a band from a bygone era makes a comeback almost 40 years after the release of their debut album, the expectation is that the effort in question will be somewhat artificial, noisily glossy, and scrupulously overproduced. It’s happened with loads of artists; a hyped up return to form falls flat in its perpetually tired and self-important mediocrity.

In Tears for Fears’ case though, their first record since 2004, The Tipping Point, is clean, respectfully confident, and actually has a purpose that justifies its subtle grandiosity. Like its cyclical, relatively busy album art, the apparent 10-year-long development process that preceded the album cements Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith as shadowy, colorful creatives with distinct songwriting styles.

It begins modestly, with the acoustically wholesome “No Small Thing” transitioning to the skippy title track, the latter of which is remarkably divergent and unexpected, even if it traffics in the same general tonality as most of the band’s smash hits. After a more typical ballad in “Long, Long, Long Time,” “Break the Man” fittingly breaks the mold thanks to jarring, explosive chords and a glorious sunshine-soaked chorus that treads in cautious optimism and relatably jocose romanticism.

Elsewhere, “My Demons” dispenses dystopian, quick-witted lyrics that are tonally contrasted by the airy, open “Rivers of Mercy.” The band’s keyboard player, Doug Petty, supplies choral strings on “Please Be Happy,” while more typical pop and rock sensibilities take center stage on “Master Plan.” Finally, Smith runs through a hazy, arena-like atmosphere on “End of Night,” only to come back home to the cavernous and drippy acoustics of “Stay.”

Perhaps most impressive of all, the record actually has a unique identity separate from Tears for Fears’ darkly melodic trove of ’80s gems; it doesn’t ride exclusively on the coattails of their past success and presents a variable, independent addition to their catalogue. It’s not a paradigm-shifting revelation that defines the modern pop rock genre (or even the band’s own career), but it certainly could be one that’ll make fans out of those who previously shunned the band for their perceived cheesy hooks and decadent synth pads. To use a hackneyed expression, this isn’t your father’s Tears for Fears.

When describing the process of writing and recording The Tipping Point, Orzabal nostalgically recounts how he and Smith, through all of their years of sometimes tense collaboration, “always seem to find each other again.” It may be a trite sentiment to stew within when the topic is rock music, but it’s an appropriate one for a revival this great. (www.tearsforfears.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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