Friday, September 30, 2016

Tears For Fears 6: Raoul And The Kings Of Spain

Another album nobody cared about when it came out was from the band still known as Tears For Fears. Ten years and only two full-lengths after Songs From The Big Chair—still their best work—Roland Orzabal’s latest project was scheduled, then dropped from their label before it could be released, and picked up by another that did release it, only to have it sink like a stone. It’s too bad, because Raoul And The Kings Of Spain was the most cohesive thing he’d done since that high watermark. (Curt Smith was still AWOL at this point.)
That’s a lot of back story, but maybe it will get people to appreciate this underrated gem, which sports rich production, regretful but otherwise impenetrable lyrics, and plenty of dynamics. Spanish imagery seems to be a key theme here, as portrayed in the artwork and the songs themselves (the title track, the punning and slinky “Sketches Of Pain”, and “Los Reyes Catalicos”, which appears halfway through and again as a reprise) but if there’s a story here we haven’t figured it out.
In between are all kinds of catchy tunes, most flowing in and out of each other, making something of a suite that still supports the idea of a concept. “Falling Down” builds from a very simple guitar riff to a track that should have been a hit single, if people still cared about TFF. “Secrets” begins with “Imagine”-style piano—something of a trend in the ‘90s—before escalating into a soaring statement in their own style. The weakest track is “God’s Mistake”, which sounded dated even when it was tried as a single, but even in this company it’s doesn’t require skipping.
“Sorry” simply explodes from the speakers with a lot of energy, and “Humdrum And Humble” builds on the retro-soul stylings popularized by Seal. “I Choose You” is the slow ballad, and a sentiment Ralph Wiggum can get behind. Reading the lyrics for “Don’t Drink The Water” won’t help, but does get the feet going again, while “Me And My Big Ideas” sneaks in TFF mainstay Oleta Adams just before the album finishes.
One of the best things about Raoul And The Kings Of Spain is that you can probably find it in a used bin for under five bucks. Thank the waning consumer confidence in the Tears For Fears brand, because with this album, their loss is your gain.

Tears For Fears Raoul And The Kings Of Spain (1995)—4

1 comment:

  1. Have you heard Everybody Loves a Happy Ending? Good stuff.