After 17.5 years, Tears For Fears is back with brand new music. “The Tipping Point” is the successor of “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending” from September 2004 and should be the comeback of the duo that achieved great success in the 80s. You can really speak of an 80s band, as they had huge success in the 80’s, but despite continuing to release singles after 1990, they never scored a hit single in any country. Two singles reached the top 10 in Canada or Italy, but in fact for the successful duo it ended after 1989.
Via Concord Records “The Tipping Point” will be released, the first album with the label by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, after they had to transfer the already disappointing “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending” to small sub-labels in 2004. And that after 20 years of only releasing at the majors. Was that an omen that it was more or less over for the men? Its predecessor “Raoul and the Kings of Spain” was barely successful in 1995, except for France. Smith’s departure in 1991 may have already marked the end of the duo, as Tears For Fears subsequently became an Orzabal solo project without success. The previous album brought the two together again, there was no real marketing campaign to promote the album, so that the reunion actually wasn’t much, apart from the great concerts of the duo, because the performances, which were often greatest hits concerts, continued to draw sold-out venues.
Smith and Orzabal have reconciled their feud for nearly 20 years, and you should expect that the magic that existed between the two in the 80s would have blossomed by now. However, “The Tipping Point” has not become a real Tears For Fears album. Not the old familiar sound like on “Sowing the Seeds of Love”, “Shout” or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, but a mix of quiet synth-pop that is really different than before. It takes some getting used to for the right-minded fan with this new sound of Tears For Fears, which again elaborates on “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending.” The art-pop and pop rock of that album seem to have become the new style of Tears For Fears. And then they have left out typical Tears For Fears-esque songs this time, like “Secret World” and “Ladybird”, which were a refreshing flashback to the 80’s on that last album. The only thing that would come close is “End of Night” or title track “The Tipping Point.”
No, with more than 30 million albums sold, the band does not have to go for commercial success, but it would be nice if there were still something recognizable for the fans. Of course, a song like the melodramatic “Please be happy” is of great class. And “Master Plan” is also masterly and could have come straight from the pen of Paul McCartney.
Charlton Pettus, who became Orzabal’s permanent musical partner after “Raoul and the Kings of Spain”, is once again present. And even though Tears For Fears has gone from duo to trio in that way, it doesn’t seem to have gotten any better. Unfortunately. Or as Curt Smith himself says: “If you have known each other for as long and have worked together as long as we have, a bond is formed that becomes familiar.” The danger of this, however, is that you no longer seem to dare to say everything honestly to each other, even if the album is no longer the familiar Tears For Fears.
All in all “The Tipping Point” is certainly not bad, it even contains some strong songs, but as Tears For Fears album it unfortunately really misses the mark. Fair, you should not always dwell in the past. You have to innovate and continue to adjust, but if you see a completely different side 40 years later with a different composition (because we can really call Pettus a permanent member with his contribution) than the New Wave and Synth-Pop that people know you from, it’s better to continue under a different name. A bit like Vince Clarke and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, with VCMG clearly separating their Techno adventures from their other work. Clearer for the fans, fairer to yourself. For the rest, not a bad album, but not very special. Too bad. (6/10) (Concord Records)
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