The veteran pop duo process difficult times on this beautifully crafted, if not quite catchy, new album

Eighteen years after its predecessor, and five years after Roland Orzabal first announced it, the seventh Tears for Fears album (and the second with Curt Smith back on board) is finally upon us. Its gestation has been far from smooth: Orzabal’s first wife died in 2017 and he suffered a bout of ill health immediately afterwards. Meanwhile the band’s former management were discouraging them from making a record at all (as detailed in the lyrics of the sarcastic Master Plan). So The Tipping Point’s very existence is a triumph of sorts.

All that time spent working on these songs is apparent: the arrangements are unfailingly lush, the musicianship beyond criticism. And there are plenty of moments to savour here: My Demons throbs in a manner that’s improbably reminiscent of Goldfrapp circa Supernature, thanks to new collaborator Sacha Skarbek’s synths; the title track unflinchingly recalls Orzabal’s bereavement; the uptempo End of Night is as uplifting as songs about the Mistral are likely to get. But while it all sounds impeccably polished, it lacks the sort of killer hook that used to consistently elevate them above their mid-80s peers. The end result finds elegance trumping excitement.

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