Curt Smith

Soul on Board

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For his first post-Tears for Fears solo outing, bassist/vocalist Curt Smith left behind any of the primal-scream anguish that once motivated his old band, preferring to explore a much more conventional path. The guest list, which includes producer Martin Page and Go West singer Peter Cox, tells you most of what you need to know about the album, which falls neatly between Page's ultra-polished adult pop and Go West's similarly well-scrubbed, blue-eyed soul. Endless tunes like the title track, "Calling Out," and the ballad "Still in Love With You" are handsomely performed, with Smith's familiar, boyish tenor as appealing as ever, but wear out their welcome midway through their five- and six-minute running times. Still, they're preferable to the attempts to get down and display a "social conscience"; "Come the Revolution," bookended by a ridiculous rap (from vocalist Taz) about freedom, the government, and the usual left-leaning mush, will horrify Tears for Fears fans and newcomers alike. In its defense, most of Soul on Board makes for extremely pleasant listening, but those seeking more invention or depth -- the sort Smith's partnership with Roland Orzabal often provided -- will have to search elsewhere.

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