Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tears For Fears 3: The Seeds Of Love

After two albums that had come out relatively close to each other, it took Tears For Fears four full years to complete their follow-up. Roland Orzabal had come down with a severe case of studio-itis, recording and re-recording tracks, with seemingly little input from Curt Smith. (Keyboardist Nicky Holland became Orzabal’s key collaborator in the interim.) By the time The Seeds Of Love finally came out, the music scene had changed from the synth-pop that helped launched the band; as a result their sound was less experimental, but still elaborate pop.
The opening track, “Woman In Chains”, is notable as a near-duet with Oleta Adams, who got a nice boost for her career thanks to this album, as well as from its production, which very much resembles the recent hit work by Peter Gabriel. At over six minutes, the track is given time to breathe and expand, and is quote stirring. “Badman’s Song” is even longer, beginning with a frantic Latin jazz solo, and continuing with gospel overtones. “Sowing The Seeds Of Love” was a late entry into the psychedelic revival of two years before, but because Beatles nostalgia was still in vogue, the song became a hit. What’s more, Curt Smith’s voice was heard for the first time on the album. He’s also prominent on the slightly wimpy “Advice For The Young At Heart”, a little too adult contemporary for these ears.
Side two’s songs are just as lengthy, a little more demanding and not always as catchy. “Standing On The Corner Of The Third World” mostly rumbles along at a medium tempo, with occasional melodies borrowed from “I Believe”. “Swords And Knives” is a little more involved but just as meandering. As if one song about knives wasn't enough, “Year Of The Knife” beings inexplicably with the sound of a live audience cheering, though there’s been no indication that it was actually recorded at a concert. Maybe they were going for a “Broken” vibe? Anyway, there’s a return to the “sun and the moon, wind and the rain” motif from “Women In Chains”. “Famous Last Words” is the shortest song, has hints of the Blue Nile and more “sun and the moon”, and leaves the listener feeling depressed about the end of the world.
While not a triumph—few albums that take so long to make are—The Seeds Of Love does show the band progressing. The best songs still sound good today, and that’s always appreciated. (The eventual reissue sported four contemporary B-sides, one of which would eventually be reworked for their next single, which we’ll get to, and the sterile jazz of “Music For Tables”.)

Tears For Fears The Seeds Of Love (1989)—3
1999 remastered CD: same as 1989, plus 4 extra tracks

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