The title track offers elements (sorry) familiar from their early synth-pop days, and less of the adult contemporary sheen from The Seeds Of Love. “Cold” is straight-ahead rock, as “Break It Down Again”. Its mock-pomp intro is purposely silly, and only helps the song succeed as a terrific single. “Mr. Pessimist” rambles a bit long, but has some tasty piano work, while “Dog’s A Best Friend’s Dog” lacks focus, besides rocking out.
With its pointed references to “primal scream” and “adolescent dream”, “Fish Out Of Water” seems to be a swipe at his onetime partner, complete with very Curt-sounding counterpart vocals in the choruses. “Gas Giants” is predominantly instrumental, hearkening back to similar experiments of the band’s from the ‘80s, and works well as a lead-in to “Power”, which, but for its length, could also have been a radio hit in that earlier time. “Brian Wilson Said” (a clever title) is an overt homage to the Smile era, but builds on those ingredients using more contemporary touches, going into an extended jazzy guitar exploration. And while a title like “Goodnight Song” belongs at the end of any album, this toetapper is hardly a lullaby.
There’s much to enjoy on Elemental, particularly since not much was expected. Labored as it is, the listener must be patient and open-minded to be rewarded. (More so than to “the other guy”, as Curt Smith quietly released Soul On Board, a collection of competent but antiseptic dance pop, later that year to resounding silence.)
Tears For Fears Elemental (1993)—3