Tears for Fears

Record review

Phases & Stages

Tears for Fears

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (NewDoor) Mad world indeed. Some L.A. singer-songwriter covers a song from your first album, for a movie no one sees until two years after its release, and suddenly you're as revered as Echo & the Bunnymen. Just like that, one of the nastier breakups in Eighties pop became so much water under London Bridge. Hatchet thus buried, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending picks up where 1989's The Seeds of Love – the last time Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal could stand to be in the same studio together – left off, a lush stew of Sgt. Pepper and Northern soul that feels both overproduced and undercooked. Smothered in brass, strings, synthesizer, and processed vocals, its 12 tracks have almost no room to breathe, and tend to meander in all sorts of directions – Ben Folds here, the Chi-Lites there. The home-run hooks of "Shout" and "Head Over Heels" are missing in action, or at least blunted by the psychedelic haze hanging over the album like stale incense. All the same, it's not a total write-off: "Call Me Mellow" is a jangly summer breeze and probably the lone decent single, and "Last Days on Earth" is elegantly wasted cocktail soul. Not bad, but certainly not enough to save the album from echoing the amorphous, overly slick R&B of Seal a time or six too many. This is what they came back for? Everybody loves a happy ending, sure, but only after a decent story before it.

**

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