AUDIO JUNKIE: Tears For Fears: New Wave heroes return at ‘The Tipping Point'

'The Tipping Point' offfical album art

Tears For Fears’ Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith return with a timely themed new album.

It’s like they never left. At least that’s how it sounds with this smooth and sonically compelling new album titled “The Tipping Point.” And because this is Tears For Fears we’re talking about here, there’s bound to be torment and emotional exorcism in the least in there. Sure enough, there’s a lot to take off their collective chest because a lot has happened in the 18 years since they last released an album back in 2004 with “Everybody Loves A Happy Ending.”

Tears for Fears photo by Frank Ockenfels from official Facebook

With ten new songs, the new album opens with folky acoustic guitars in pensive and slow rising “No Small Thing.” It’s as if the duo is reflecting back on all the years when Orzabal sings amidst rootsy instrumentations, “When I’m tired of the bright lights / when I’ m tired of the wine / I’ll go down to Wheal Mexico / to the depths of my mind / when I’m forty years older / when I’m wrinkled and wise / I will trade all my liberty / for that look in your eyes.”

Once upon a time, Tears For Fears was at the cutting edge of electronic music. And the ambient strains that open “The Tipping Point” certainly takes us back. Then the song finally turns into a steady, mid-tempo stomp where Orzabal and Smith sing about life at the cusp of death. In a Rolling Stone interview, Orzabal said that, “The song’s narrator is in a hospital ward looking at people about to cross the threshold that we call death.” The song is in part about Orzabal’s experience when his wife died in 2017. It’s all the more poignant when they harmonize on the call and response chorus: “Who’s that ghost knocking at my door? / You know that I can’t love you more / What’s that shape climbin’ over my wall? / You know that I can’t love you more,” as we see in our mind’s eye dark shaped wraiths while listening to those honed melodies.

Tears for Fears photo from official Facebook

References to previous albums and hits are inevitable, and those familiar with the duo’s hit “Change” would instantly recognize that ringing chord at the beginning of “Break The Man.” Come to think of it, this song, in some of its parts, sounds like a major key tweak of “Change.” This is an old songwriting trick of the duo, as they did the same thing before with “Sowing The Seeds Of Love,” which they laughingly admitted was a major key tweak of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.”

Good ol’ fashioned paranoia powers the electric shuffle of “My Demons” while uncertainty and the undesirable traits of human nature is the theme in the Curt Smith sung “Long, Long, Long Time.”

In “Rivers Of Mercy,” Orzabal sings “Well the streets have started burning / there’s trouble in the towns / guess the devil loves his playground that’s for sure,” amidst the intro sound effects of gunfire and chaos which somehow echoes what’s happening in this newly-minted war we’re seeing. Coincidentally too, the duo is egging their listeners to not give in to despair as they sing “I too often see the world through a veil of tears / well, to hell with my immunity / gonna hold you close till the shadows disappear.” In times like these, all you need is love.

Tears For Fears is back!