“If only I were half my age and she was younger,” laments Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal on “Call Me Mellow,” one of the many standout tracks on Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, the band’s first new album in nine years. It seems he and formerly missing-in-action bandmate Curt Smith have, though they’re still relatively young, cast away their status as semi-pretentious MTV darlings and tapped into a new, more mature – though no less compelling – thematic vein.
After the 1989 release of the painstakingly recorded The Seeds of Love, things went south for the group. Co-frontman Curt Smith decided he’d had bloody well enough and went his own way. When we last left Tears for Fears, 1995’s overwrought Raoul and the Kings of Spain looked like it was the last we’d ever hear from the outfit that had given us such gems as The Hurting and Songs From the Big Chair (which contained the ’80s favorite “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”) only a decade earlier.
Luckily, Orzabal and Smith have buried the hatchet, and the 21st century has brought us the first full-fledged Tears for Fears project in 15 years. Everybody Loves a Happy Ending is a comeback in every sense of the word, its music as colorful and bursting with creative detail as its psychedelic cover art. The reunion has produced 12 energetic, operatic tracks that have been most frequently described as “Beatle-esque.”
There is absolutely no reason why the album’s choicest songs – the orchestral “Secret World,” the “Sowing the Seeds of Love”-esque “Closest Thing to Heaven” and the aforementioned “Call Me Mellow,” to name but a few – shouldn’t become hits as embraced as Orzabal and Smith’s best 1980s work. Unfortunately, justice is not always properly served in the pop/rock world, and there’s a chance that this release won’t reach its deserved level of acclaim simply because it’s a Tears for Fears album. Some would argue that the progress of popular music has marched right past the band, though their latest proves that they’re at least on par with it. In fact, they’re probably ahead.
[Colin Marshall bets you didn’t know that the name “Tears for Fears” is taken from primal scream therapy.]