May 3, 2022 Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point (Album Review)
To many, Tears For Fears are the quintessential band from the ’80s era. Not at all a deeming statement to pigeonhole them, it is more one that celebrates their creative ingenuity, unmistakable vocals, and lyrical content that never pulled punches, all while appealing to a larger audience. You see, Tears For Fears were never really just a Pop band, they touched on many serious topics in their music. Just look at “Mad World,” “Everybody Wants To Rule the World,” originally titled “Everybody Wants To Go to War,” the protest song “Shout,” or “Woman in Chains.” Nearly everyone is familiar with these songs, but each of them also strikes a chord far deeper than the standard Pop.
All this in mind, Tears For Fears has been prime to put out new material for some time now. In fact, they had not put out a full original album together since all the way back in 2004 with Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, and back then, that was their first album since 1989’s The Seeds of Love. Now nearly another two decade gap later, Tears For Fears are back with their brand new album The Tipping Point.
Released on February 25, 2022 through Concord Records, the story behind The Tipping Point is quite interesting. The story goes that the band’s two creative forces, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, originally began working on songs all the way back in 2013. Unfortunately those sessions did not go as planned since their management at the time wanted them to collaborate with younger artists in an attempt to put together an album more modern and commercial appealing. A baffling request to make on such impeccable songwriting team, Orzabal and Smith opted to not conform for the sake of their own creativity integrity. In truth this was a good move, because everyone knows the best music created is that the music sincere to the creator’s vision. Anyway, this little detour resulted in some more conflict in the years to follow after the release of 2017 compilation album Rule the World: The Greatest Hits. Orzabal and Smith were still having second thoughts about how the new music was coming out. Thankfully after much creative agony, as well as other personal tragedies, the duo were able to put the final brush strokes and their own seal of approval on The Tipping Point.
Now, with this backstory in mind, you would have to believe that these new songs are the best of the best, right? If two artists are that focused on what they want their music to sound like, they obviously sincerely care, wouldn’t you say? The answer is yes to both of those questions. You see, the collective Tears For Fears could have easily slapped a mediocre collection of songs together to make a few bucks off of their name or to just have another reason to tour, but what really drove them was artistic integrity. Extremely admirable, at the end of the day Orzabal and Smith wanted to put out an album that represented them as songwriters and Tears For Fears as it’s own entity.
So was all of this in vain? Absolutely not! From the moment you put on this album you can hear the care put into it. Granted it starts off on the mellow side, “No Small Thing” is a beautiful acoustic piece that sets you up for the more synth driven “The Tipping Point.” The latter, the obvious title-track, but also the album’s lead single, is a haunting piece that reflects the struggle well face with loss.
From here you have songs like “Long, Long, Long Time,” “Break the Man,” “My Demons,” which certainly have a more modern tone, but all while retaining the classic Tears For Fears sound. Then amidst it all you have what is arguable the album’s boldest hidden gem, “Rivers of Mercy.” Mirroring a similar atmosphere to 1989’s “Woman in Chains,” “Rivers of Mercy” is a impeccable, thoughtful song touching on all our questions of faith, hope, and life. Which leads us to the last half of the album including the orchestral “Please Be Happy,” the Beatlesque “Master Plan,” the very modern “End Of Night,” and the absolutely ear-tingling acoustics of “Stay.”
Overall The Tipping Point is the perfect balance of what makes Tears For Fears who they are. Yes, there is certainly a modern flair to many of the tracks, but it is tasteful and done in a way that solidifies the band’s identity. This is not an easy task, because we are currently living in a world where there is tremendous pressure to fall in line with whatever is trending at the moment. Whether Orzabal and Smith realize it or not their steadfast position to create music on their terms is an inspiration to all of us. For what could possibly be the final Tears For Fears’ album ever recorded, Cryptic Rock gives The Tipping Point 4.5 out of 5 stars.