Tears for Fears, suffering and tragedy generate great pop music

Tears for Fears, suffering and tragedy generate great pop music

After long and troubled years of arguments and reluctantly successful tours, family deaths and management changes, the Tears For Fears they finally reformed and on February 25, 2022, 17 and a half years later “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending” (read it here review), they published “The tipping point”. To date this remains the band’s last album, after all only two years have passed. While waiting for a new job Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith we invite you to read the review of the seventh album by Tears For Fears written for us by Michele Boroni.

In recent weeks we have talked a lot about Tears For Fears, the main passages in their history and the construction of this highly anticipated album by the duo composed of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith after 17 rather complicated years. The history of pop rock music tells us that reunion records are usually always very pompous, annoyingly overproduced and with a few high-sounding names such as featuring or behind the mixer. Instead, “The Tipping point”, almost 40 years after the debut of “The Hurting” (1983), the Tears for Fears album doesn’t sound like that at all: it is instead an artisanal album, without high-sounding names (made with the songwriters /producers Sacha Skarbek, Florian Reutter and Charlton Pettus), respectfully self-confident and, although not a concept album at all, it is a work with its own purpose which somehow justifies its rigor and quality.

To be honest, at the beginning it doesn’t even seem like a Tears For Fears album as we remember them: “No small things”, which opens the album, starts off like a country folk piece by Dylan but then later realigns itself to the more family members associated with the Bath-born couple. The title track co-written with the band’s guitarist Charlton Pettus, a piece between erratic and classic Tears for Fears addresses Orzabal’s pain over the loss of his first wife in 2017 with a very courageous refrain (“So, who Is that ghost knocking on my door? / You know I can’t love you anymore”).

The album proceeds with a swing of emotions: there is “Break the man” with its sunny refrain which contrasts with the subsequent “My demons” in which a dystopian future is told in a sort of synth rock, and then arrives at the track most beautiful of the album and perhaps even of TFF’s entire career (“Rivers of Mercy”) and which Peter Gabriel could have written. Here and there we hear Beatles-esque harmonies (“Master Plan”) and female voices (“Long long long time”) with Carina Round replacing former collaborator Oleta Adams.

As Orzabal & Smith told us during the interview, some songs have to do with personal events and those of their artistic couple.

And listening to these songs you understand what Orzabal meant when he said that despite the tense years spent together both apart and on tour, during the writing and recording process “they always seemed to find each other”. The aforementioned “Master Plan” details the difficulties Orzabal and Smith had working with the previous manager. The closing “Stay” reflects on Smith’s uncertainty in remaining in the band, even after the reunion, while the song with the misleading title “Please Be Happy” recounts Orzabal’s trauma at the bedside of his dying wife, taking up certain orchestral phrases from “ The Long and Winding Road”.

To conclude, “The Tipping Point” is a multi-layered album, full of emotionally engaging songs, of that quality that is between classic pop and contemporary, without playing in the wake of past successes (which instead they had done on the previous “Everybody loves to a happy ending”). A record that tells how even suffering and tragedy can be transformed into great pop songs.