Songs From The Big Chair – Tears For Fears (1985)

Tears For Fears are a British band formed in 1981 consisting of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. They released their second album “Songs From The Big Chair” in 1985. The album contained a number of their biggest hits and blended their rock/pop style to great effect.

To me Tears For Fears never fitted into the Nu Romantic styling of the time alongside bands like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran. There was a cooler, less glitzy feeling about Tears For Fears but it wasn’t just appearance that led to this aura around the band but it was the music which just seemed a little more serious.

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This album includes two of the what I consider the best songs from the decade that was the 1980s.

The first of these songs kicks off the album. “Shout” is an epic track with big and bold instrumentation with kicking industrial sounding drums and wailing guitars driving the song forward as an almost call to arms lyric is bellowed at us.

It certainly is a catchy song and the chorus you’ll probably find yourself singing along to but lyrics are direct and honest about allowing yourself to feel more than something passive to things that are going on that you don’t agree me.

I feel that the song is almost encouraging people to stand up and say something instead of fading into the background. i

There is no doubt that “Shout” is a great song. I bet they knew it was when they recorded it because whilst essentially it is so simple it is incredibly power and just a top recording.

“The Working Hour” starts off with an atmospheric saxophone solo which was a theme of many songs of the time. The percussion then comes in as the song builds up with keyboard and a drum pattern.

This is a stunning song. It’s instrumentation is elegant and the vocals are sublime. The lyrics are about the two band members realising that they are becoming a brand and not just two people making music. It’s about them trying to make sense of this and working through it because the fear that they will lose themselves weighs heavy.

Orzabal puts in such a heartfelt performance that the last few lyrics about trying to find out what this fear is all about are quite beautiful and the production of this song does these lyrics justice.

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is the third track. This is a song that easily makes my top 20 songs of all time. It is one of the greatest songs every recorded in my opinion and this album would be worth buying just for this song.

This song stops me in my tracks every time. If it comes on the radio it will never be turned off or turned down. It transports me to a moment I can’t really understand but it wants me to take notice of the music and the lyrics.

From the distinct guitar rift to the unison singing from both band members the song just engages me every time.

A song about wanting power and how the world is corrupted with people who just want to be in control. The song is as relevant in 2017 as it was in 1985 and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say anything negative about the track. It just seems to be one of those universally loved songs and rightly so.

The run of quality is ended with the fourth track “Mothers Talk” which just sounds too of a time that the retro quality doesn’t come forth to save it. The drum machine pattern is messy and the whole arrangement never really flows.

“I Believe” is an unusual fit on the album but I think it’s an solid track. A slow song with a Jazz feel about it’s structure we see Tears For Fears again write a song that is extremely self away.

“And I believe that if I’m crying while I write these words
Is it absurd or am I being real?”

The song does get a little monotonous with each line starting with “I believe” but I like the way it is dealing with their fears of fame and getting older. It shows where they are at in their minds and probably this self awareness is what distinguishes them from the more visual bands of the time.

Track six “Broken” has a more of a rockier edge to it. Like most of the tracks on the album the instrumental of the track is allowed to take centre stage for the first quarter of the song.

Lyrically we again explore themes of belief, fears and hopes for the future despite the feeling of being broken.

This song is really more an introduction to “Head Over Heels” which is just a phenomenal song.

Exploring the relationship theme “Head Over Heels” talks about being in a relationship with someone who has issues from their past that prevents them from being fully present in this current situation.

What I like about the song is that it is like a story in the sense we get a beginning, middle and end with the lyrics in the outro implying that he will take a chance with this person no matter the problems that they seem to be facing due to past issues.

Lyrics aside, this is just a great song.

The final track is “Listen”. Following the same formula as all the other tracks the intro to the song is lengthy as it is allowed to marinate just long enough for you to start wondering what you are going to hear.

Perhaps this track is a little too indulgent with the 3 minute mark passing and you don’t feel as though it has really come together yet. The ethereal keyboard playing and distant drums create an eerie atmosphere but it seems a little stuck together more than a cohesive moment.

There is certainly an experimental feel with the final track and some Spanish lyrics and African style feel to the percussion finishes the album in quite an odd way.

Despite feeling as if the final song was somewhat a disappointment it cannot detract from what is a wonderful album from a wonderful band.

With only eight tracks it is certainly digestible although I think it probably could have lent itself to at least a couple more songs as some of the themes they explored could have been looked at in even more detail from different perspectives of their progression.

I think I want to know how they came to these conclusion and thoughts about life and what led them to feel so strongly that they wanted to write about it. Either way I am just intrigued by this project.

 

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