Tears for Fears
Everybody Loves a Happy Ending
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10
Written by John Metzger
Between its first two albums (The Hurting and Songs from the Big Chair), Tears for Fears transformed itself from a simple synth-pop band into an international sensation, but on its third outing The Seeds of Love, the duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith truly found its niche by following a somewhat different and surprisingly sophisticated path. Incorporating elements of jazz and soul into an array of cinematically-inclined, Beatles-infused pop tunes, the group not only demonstrated its lofty ambitions, but it also brought them to fruition. Unfortunately, it also marked the end of the groupís reign as Smith departed the following year after the quarreling with his collaborator became unbearable.
Even without his partner, Orzabal made several attempts to keep Tears for Fears intact, but the end results were mixed. Elemental was a respectable, if uneven, affair; Raoul and the Kings of Spain was largely forgettable; and although his lone solo outing Tomcats Screaming Outside put him back on track, it was virtually ignored by the masses. Still, his efforts had a therapeutic effect, allowing him to make peace with his past, and with the release of the appropriately titled Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, Orzabal and Smithís first collaborative effort in 15 years, Tears for Fears has come full circle. Indeed, the band is back in a big way, once again appearing poised to conquer the airwaves.
By losing a majority of the dance grooves that underpinned many of the songs on Tomcats Screaming Outside, Tears for Fears triumphantly has returned to the sublime pop orchestrations and heartfelt ruminations of its crowning achievement without seeming like itís simply trying to recreate its previous successes. Call Me Mellow, the first single from Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, is a genuine gem that just may be the most ebullient and infectious tune that the ensemble has ever concocted ó and itís far from alone on an album that is bathed in the gleaming, lysergic glow of radiant sunshine. There are hints of The Polyphonic Spree, Burt Bacharach, David Byrne, David Bowie, The Las, and even Radiohead tucked inside its latest batch of songs, but most notably Tears for Fears has crafted an album that pays tribute to XTCís formidable canon without stooping to rote regurgitation. Merging bursts of Philly soul with the psychedelic swirl of The Beatles and the lush majesty of The Beach Boys, Orzabal and Smith sculpt dense layers of sound from a dizzying array of textured keyboards, churning guitars, dreamy harmonies, burbling basses, and swollen strings in order to form an edifying concoction of rapturous bliss. Despite the obviously heavy-handed production, however, the ambience achieved is one of organic beauty, saturated with the familiar promise that loveís salvation will cure an ailing world.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box