Review: Tears For Fears Back in Action on ‘The Tipping Point’

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Tears For Fears
The Tipping Point
(Concord)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Longtime Tears For Fears fans heaved a collective sigh of relief in 2004. That’s when the twosome reconvened after some disappointing solo releases (that still carried the TFF imprint) from Roland Orzabal after his musical partner Curt Smith split in 1993 to release a few of his own unsuccessful sets. Money has a funny way of repairing dysfunctional relationships. 

The resulting Everybody Loves a Happy Ending reaffirmed everything the pair did so successfully on their initial seven-year three-album ’80s run. But oddly there was no sequel, implying that things were not copasetic in TFF’s colorful Beatles-influenced psychedelic pop world. Seventeen years, and plenty of professional and personal turmoil later, Orzabal and Smith return with this much-anticipated follow-up. 

There is a melancholy haze permeating much of this. Orzabal references the death of his wife after a protracted illness on the intimate title track and the deceptively named “Please Be Happy,” the latter taking some orchestrated cues from “The Long and Winding Road.” A sense of redemption emerges from the lovely, introspective “Rivers of Mercy,” the disc’s centerpiece. It gradually builds from a stark piano opening and vibrates with the emotional narrative power of a Peter Gabriel ballad. Orzabal cites it as his favorite of the collection.   

The mood gets energized on the dark synth-driven rocker “My Demons,” which imagines a dystopian future, and the thumping beat of “End of Night” that, with its sing-along chorus, is this set’s most pop-oriented selection. “Master Plan” details the difficulties Orzabal and Smith had working with a previous manager, atop a lush, typically opulent sonic setting. The closing “Stay” reflects on Smith’s uncertainty with remaining in the band, even after the reunion.

While there are few moments that challenge the band’s finest work, let alone justify the extended wait for new music, The Tipping Point reaffirms TFF’s collaborative talents. They remain idiosyncratic and distinctive in a pop music landscape now enhanced by having this veteran duo back in action again.  

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels

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