Review Summary: No need to worry.
Tears for Fears' The Tipping Point
is living proof that the concept of age has nothing to do with the quality of music - Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith simultaneously turned sixty last year, and they still managed to crank out a pristine, fresh-sounding record like The Tipping Point
, a refreshing reminder that old age is no excuse for making garbage music. Perhaps I spoiled my thoughts on the record ahead of time (although the big red "4.0" might be enough of a spoiler), but I admire an album that gets straight to the point, so I might as well do the same.
And get to the point the album does - "Break The Man" is a lavish track with low-key, mysterious verses that bring to mind a blend between Rush's "Presto" and The Eurythmics' "Here Comes The Rain Again" before gliding into a big, poppy hook embellished with quick-hitting drum machines and a dancey groove that's hard not to smile and nod your head along to. "No Small Thing" is a surprising followup with its brooding, homely acoustics and Johnny Cash-meets-Lumineers folk theatrics, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable ditty whose melancholic countryisms seamlessly dovetail into a bombastic, Bowie-esque 70's rock anthem in the latter half of the track. And right after that momentary break from the norm, the title track opens with an airy, electronic miasma of synths and processed drums before hitting you with a rollicking 12/8 beat that sounds like the menacing, sinister sequel to the band's own "Everybody Wants To Rule The World".
It's amazing how these guys haven't lost their touch. There isn't a wasted moment on the album's forty-two minutes, with every song providing something new compared to the last. Even when the record seems like it's about to dip in quality, The Tipping Point
frequently reels you back in - take "Rivers of Mercy", for example. Though the track starts with a hokey, free-form piano tune, it suddenly glides into this gorgeous, reverberated ballad decorated with ambient synth pads, echoing harps, and heavenly vocal harmonies that wash over the listener like rain and light. What sounded like one of the worst songs on the record quickly transitioned into possibly the best of the bunch, and this is the level of quality The Tipping Point
stays at throughout. "My Demons" is a bluesy, anthemic slice of dark, guitar-heavy 80's rock, "Master Plan" marries together stomping, piano-driven verses with resounding string-section choruses to great effect, and the terrific "End of Night" shotgun-blasts you with blown-out, overdriven sawtooth synths, a swinging beat, and a haunting, million-dollar vocal line in the chorus.
Perhaps the only major complaint I have with the record is that tracks that grab you by the throat - like "End of Night" and "The Tipping Point" - are less frequent than songs that just stay pleasant and enjoyable throughout. That's really it. My solitary nitpick is that the album is consistent, not mindblowing, and when the worst thing you can say about a record can still be twisted into a compliment, you know you've got a good one on your hands. Even the album's slower tracks have something enjoyable and unique about them - "Stay" is a gorgeous, delicate bit of subtle electropop and "Long, Long, Long Time" has what might be the best vocal performance on the album. The Tipping Point
made me wish I was more familiar with Tears For Fears' other works, and new albums from legacy acts that leave you wanting more out of genuine enjoyment - and not out of a feeling of "missing the good old days when they weren't terrible" - are a precious commodity indeed. At least for now, Tears For Fears can safely say they've Still Got It.