Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point

An enriching, valuable return…

It’s been almost 20 years since Tears For Fears last graced the release schedule, with fans growing to view 2004’s ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’ as something of an unexpected coda. Yet the band themselves seemingly never viewed it this way – sessions for ‘The Tipping Point’ have been under way for years, sometimes secretly, with work continuing at a glacial pace.

But, it was ever thus. Artistic challenges and personal differences have long marked Tears For Fears, and ‘The Tipping Point’ hasn’t been immune to this – indeed, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith both walked out of the project at different junctures, only to return when the friction had abetted.

Sonically, it’s a lush, complex, hyper-focussed work, one whose fastidious grasp of finer detail stands proudly alongside the studio auteurs’ more halo’d work. ‘No Small Thing’ is a gripping, intense opener, before segueing into the rather more plaintive climes that beset the twinkling cinematics of the title cut.

‘Long, Long Time’ is a bracing piece of sub-zero synth pop, while ‘Break The Man’ is Curt Smith unleashed, a lyrical barb against the patriarchal systems that surround us. Indeed, the daring complexity of the arrangements is set alongside some of the most open, emotive lyrics Tears For Fears have ever ushered out into the world. Roland Orzabal’s wife passed away in 2017, and much of the record touches on love, grief, and the attempt to find a different sort of focus.

‘My Demons’ kicks off a difficult mid-album triptych, with the plaintive ‘Please Be Happy’ featuring a naked vocal. ‘End Of Night’ is rather more rousing, however, almost militaristic in tone, its pulsating directness pursuing solitary paths.

Closing with ‘Stay’, Tears For Fears’ first album in 20 years is marked by an incredible sense of unity. A project driven by a focussed, finessed sense of purpose, ‘The Tipping Point’ is an excellent song cycle, one that touches on their innermost feelings. A vastly collaborative experience, the difficult nature of the sonics is matched by the joy unravelling them – our only hope is it doesn’t take the band two decades to conjure a follow up.


Words: Robin Murray

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