Building off of the success of his previous long player Too Low For Zero (1983), Elton John (piano/vocals) retained his 'classic quartet' for the follow-up Breaking Hearts (1984). After an eight year ('75 -- '83) hiatus Dee Murray (bass/backing vocals), Davey Johnstone (guitar/backing vocals) and Nigel Olsson (drums/backing vocals) briefly reunited with John and Bernie Taupin (lyrics) to attempt a musical resurrection of their early-to-mid '70s sound. Without question this is one of John's most consistent efforts during his half decade on Geffen Records ('81 -- '86). However the shift in pop music styles since 1975 as well as lack of edgy material, seemed to stifle the band's return to full form circa Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (GYBR) (1973) or Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975). Breaking Hearts was not light on hits either, yielding "Who Wears These Shoes" as well as the Top 5 smash "Sad Songs (Say So Much)"." The oft over looked "L'il 'Frigerator" is a high octane rocker that could be considered a post script to "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n' Roll)" from GYBR. The opening cut "Restless" is also one of the spunkier tracks and came off particularly well when John hit the road with his formidable sidemen to support the disc. The vast majority of Breaking Hearts however, is met with varying degrees of success. Both "In Neon" and the reggae-dub influenced "Passengers" were best suited to the lighter pop genre and Adult Contemporary radio format where John joined the ranks of Phil Collins, Lionel Ritchie and George Michael. This stylistic direction, while concurrently popular, also criminally under-utilised the synergy between the artist and band. With the exception of the noir 'unplugged' title performance "Breaking Hearts (Ain't What It Used To Be)" a majority of the LP is indistinguishable from much of the rest of his mid '80s and early '90s catalogue.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer