Earlier this year, seminal synth-pop rockers Tears For Fears released Tipping Point, their sixth record since debuting forty years ago. It’s a genuinely terrific album – not great in the way a music critic will invariably promise you that an older legendary artist’s new material is his best in decades, or whatever – but holding up just fine against the artistic benchmarks they set in their post-punk heyday, as though they haven’t lost a step.
Keep in mind as you consider that, that it hasn’t been the smoothest ride for Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, originally childhood friends whose professional and personal relationship ultimately survived an acrimonious hiatus of nearly twenty years, beginning in 1991, just a couple years after the release of The Seeds Of Love, their third and most commercially successful record. Tipping Point, too, was forged of a calamitous nine years in the making: after the two began production in 2013, the project almost collapsed several times under shearing forces that included unwelcome creative requests from a record label, which the two ultimately rejected, as well as profound personal loss endured by Orzabal, whose wife passed away tragically in 2017.
These are songwriters though who have always capably leveraged dark-art alchemy to transmogrify emotionally sensitive subject matter into anthems that captured and defined an era of pop music, and as Pitchfork reports, when they finally set their sights on finishing production on their latest work, they stripped away the distractions, parted ways with collaborators, management and their label too, and built out their ideas “alone with guitars, sitting eyeball to eyeball.”