Tears for Fears

Raoul and the Kings of Spain

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The second Tears for Fears album following Curt Smith's departure finds Roland Orzabal treading water (and self-consciously deep water at that). Long removed from the simple, melodic melancholy of the band's early work and abandoning the mid-period Beatles-influenced pop, Raoul and the Kings of Spain often borders on progressive rock. There's some genuinely pretty, if unexciting, music like the piano-driven ballad "Secrets," with it's soaring guitar line, and the gentle "Sketches of Pain." Unfortunately, everything is undone by Orzabal's lyrics (mostly co-written with guitarist/keyboardist Alan Griffiths). There seems to be a lack of ideas that cannot be concealed by the words, which are either inscrutable or embarrassingly silly ("What's the matter with your life/Did someone come and shoot your wife," he asks on "Sorry"). Listeners on both sides of the Atlantic couldn't be bothered, and the act's commercial fortunes fell even further.

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