Tears For Fears’ latest single: their classic sound updated with a modern edge

Tears For Fears’ Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal, looking content with the prestige that sometimes comes with being an aging rocker. Picture: Frank Ockenfels
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Eighties art-rock duo Tears For Fears’ new single The Tippping Point affirms their songwriting consistency in preparation of their upcoming album. Tim Bottams reports.
Tears For Fears’ latest single: their classic sound updated with a modern edge

The Tipping Point showcases a band assessing its twilight era with a sense of humility and maturity, highlighting Tears For Fears’ ability to propagate their nostalgic ’80s-era sound with an injection of melancholic electronica.

 It pares back the excess of their affiliated era while retaining a ponderous groove of pulsating machinery and multi-layered keyboard textures.

The Tipping Point is Tears For Fears’ first single release in anticipation of their upcoming album of the same name.  

The opening portion of The Tipping Point evokes an ambient character before charging with quiet confidence into a grooving, reverberant structure. 

The occasional synthesized hand claps and gated drum, forever associated with the sound of their indelible era, still make their way in every so often, but its inclusion serves more as a knowing wink than as an overriding musical character. 

A persistent hi-hat rhythm and clamouring snares ensure an element of human clarity emerges through the song’s mechanised progression. 

Tears For Fears’ latest single: their classic sound updated with a modern edge
‘The Tipping Point’, Tears For Fears’ first album in seventeen years, is set to release February 25th, 2022. Picture: Concord.

Whimsical keyboard notes patter the foreground between verses and the lyrics peel back an abstractive theme of life, death and loss, delivered with equal amounts of tunefulness and sincerity. 

There’s a surprising restraint to the song, emphasised by the sobering interweaving of Roland Orzabal’s and Curt Smith’s ethereal vocals. The former’s voice takes centre stage (as it often does) with a hooky chorus melody wrapped around a simplistic pop progression.   

While seeped in a consistent swagger, the song maintains a static composition that wavers little once it begins, only pulling back the layers in a short section that ironically demands some form of instrumental solo or catharsis on that, at the very least, invokes the bombast of earlier songs like Shout and Sowing the Seeds of Love

That moment is never granted, and the song instead continues to relish in its atmosphere, which it does so throughout with a cool conviction and expert pacing.

The song remains an affirmation of the group’s ability to write a compelling song with an intriguing hook even whilst introducing a dreamlike atmosphere and an understatement not immediately apparent in their previous releases.   

The Tipping Point album is set to be released on February 25, 2022.