Tomcats Screaming Outside
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2001, Volume 8, #12
Written by John Metzger
Tears for Fears' remarkable run in the 1980s came to an end with the departure of Curt Smith. Roland Orzabal — unquestionably the dominant half of the band — made an attempt to carry the group forward, but his decision yielded two unfortunate hit-and-miss affairs — Elemental and Raoul and the Kings of Spain. Interestingly enough, Orzabal's latest release Tomcats Screaming Outside — which this time was recorded under his own name — keeps this latter day incarnation of Tears for Fears virtually intact, while marking his return to form. Consequently, it's not only his best outing since he and Smith parted ways, but it also sounds like the proper successor to his former group's magnum opus The Seeds of Love.
Throughout Tomcats Screaming Outside, Orzabal traces a familiar route, creating his own updated version of '60s psychedelia. He's moved a bit further along this path, the same one he first explored on The Seeds of Love, though his mini-symphonies now include '90s techno and dance grooves and recall The Stone Roses and Pop-era U2. As such, it catches Orzabal in an awkward position. On a personal level, he's progressed, but on a cultural level, he often sounds somewhat dated and behind the times — especially after the triple punch of Radiohead's last three albums.
No matter. After all, no one else has been able to keep up with Radiohead either, and there's plenty on Tomcats Screaming Outside into which long-time Tears for Fears fans can sink their teeth. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference at which style of music that Orzabal happens to be dabbling; his powerful vocals float and glide above the fray in a delicate ballet with his lush orchestrations. On Ticket to the World, the rhythms bump and grind in ecstasy-laden elation, while the ambient Day by Day by Day by Day by Day drifts by like a cloud captured in a hallucinogenic dream. Elsewhere, Dandelion rampages over its grunge-fueled guitar riffs, and while the drum & bass groove of Hey Andy doesn't pack quite the space-age punch of Radiohead, Orzabal does make it shimmer and shake in his own way. Suffice it to say: Tomcats Screaming Outside is a welcome comeback effort — one which hopefully will find Orzabal once again creating the types of bold statements that fans have come to expect. ½
Tomcats Screaming Outside is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box