Rolling Stone magazine once said Roland Orzabal was the missing link between the Cure and Sade.
Long after Tears for Fears shout, shout, let it all, Orzabal continued to marry post-punk moodiness with classic rock and jazz-pop.
Taking the TFF moniker for himself after Curt Smith went his own way, Orzabal hammered out one hook after another on 1993’s Elemental and 1995’s sadly overlooked Raoul and the Kings of Spain.
Orzabal has now reclaimed his name and updated the aesthetic that marked his early career with Tomcats Screaming Outside.
It’s classic Orzabal — a comfortable blend of dance floor beats and rocking guitars.
But the dance music of today bears little resemblance to the analog beats of 1980s new wave. It’s all techno, drum ‘n’ bass, jungle and whatever other labels clubgoers imagine.
“Ticket to the World” opens the album with ethereal synthesizers that could have been recycled from the Songs from the Big Chair sessions, but as soon as a drum ‘n’ bass rhythm kicks in, it’s totally modern.
From there, Orzabal drives his beefy guitar lines with four-on-the-floor beats and growly, thumping bass lines.
“Hypnoculture” includes Deep Forest-like world music sampling and a vaguely-“Vogue”-ish bass pattern. “Bullets for Brains” and “For the Love of Cain” return Orzabal to the big choruses that marked “Head Over Heels” and “Break It Down Again.”
“Under Ether” indulges in a bit of Tricky/Maxinique-like darkness. “Day By Day By Day By Day” is a Robert Wyatt-inspired song disguised as a trip-hop fantasy.
In other words, Orzabal has come full circle. He’s reached back into the past only to find the future.
But this time around, it’s a future that’s more kinetic, more fluid than the thump-whack beats of the 80s. Combined with Orzabal’s knack for ear-catching melodies, this future seems like destiny.