Tears for Fears — aka singer/songwriters Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith — have written some of the best pop songs of the last four decades; sleek, immaculately produced tunes that dominated 1980s radio and remain staples to this day. Check out “Mad World,” “Shout,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” for proof.
The duo met as teenagers in Bath, England, in the late 1970s and began making music full of Beatles-esque harmonies, angsty lyrics and moody, era-defining synthesizers. They formed Tears for Fears in 1981 and released a trio of albums (1983’s The Hurting, 1985’s Songs from the Big Chair and 1989’s The Seeds of Love) that topped the charts and helped make MTV a cultural juggernaut.
The rapid success — the guys were all of 24 years old when Songs from the Big Chair hit No. 1 across the world — took its toll. Dissatisfied with his role as “the guy in Tears for Fears,” Smith left the band in 1991. Orzabal and Smith didn’t speak again until 2000, eventually reuniting to release Everybody Loves a Happy Ending in 2004. And now, 18 years later, Tears for Fears is back with The Tipping Point, an intriguing, quasi-concept album about growing old and seeing things from a markedly different angle four decades removed from the duo’s best-known work.
“If you’re going to be doing this when you’re 60, it seems criminal to do the same thing that you used to do when you were 19,” Orzabal said in an interview with Variety earlier this year. “Have you not learned anything? And I think this is, for me, the beauty of this album. You’ve got people coming to terms with themselves, coming to terms with each other through a relatively — relatively — at times turbulent relationship. And also people who, as artists, are keen to share our perspective on the world: how we see it, not coming from a position on the left or a position on the right, but trying to spread education, information and awareness to try and make the world, dare I say, a better place.”