Released: March 7, 1983
Peak: 73 US, 11 UK, 7 CN, 15 AU
Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.3 UK, 2.0 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: new wave/synth pop
Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
All songs written by Roland Orzabal.
Total Running Time: 41:39
4.007 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)
Quotable: “Absolutely essential for fans of the darker side of new wave.” – Eric Aaron, OpenUpAndSay.com
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“Tears For Fears developed on the periphery of the early '80s electro-pop phenomenon; their Bath base isolating them from the confidence and cool of their Sheffield compatriots – the Human League, ABC and Heaven 17--and the urban sleaze of Soft Cell. The Hurting is nevertheless an assured debut; Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith weaving contemporary technology with traditional arrangements in a fashion that would soon…dominate '80s mainstream pop.” HE
Tears for Fears stood “out among the…crop of identikit synth-pop groups by virtue of their resourceful, stylish songwriting and fetching rhythmic sway.” DF There is a “desire to create something important.” AD “Awash in dark synth–pop textures, this harrowing album smartly resolves the group's renowned soulful pop tendencies with a new–wave, post–punk vibe reminiscent of early Depeche Mode.” EA “The keyboard programming, the keyboard and drum arrangements in general, are…very innovative sounding even…twenty years later.” AD “The oft–underrated result is as profound and emotional as 1980s pop ever was.” EA
The Hurting “bursts with inspired pop melodies, not least with the schoolgirl la-las of Suffer the Children” HE and “the rolling and thumping alterna-soul of Change.” EO Its “breathless core riff and nervous percussion accelerate the song's strong disco pulse,” DF making for an “energetic, infectiously danceable” EA song that “rolls along very nicely. It has an anxiety and energy as well as a huge pop hook in the chorus [and] very nice…vocals.” AD
“The menacing Mad World” JL is “an indelible song with odd, syncopated percussion, moody synths and Smith’s haunted vocals on precociously wise, perceptive lyrics.” EO It “features top notch drum patterns and keyboard work, as well as a perfectly placed vocal [and] great lyrics.” AD As proof of the song’s staying power, British songwriter Gary Jules took his piano-driven cover of the song to #1 in the UK twenty years later when it was featured on the soundtrack to cult film Donnie Darko.
On both ‘Mad World’ and “the moody” EA Pale Shelter, beguiling hooks and panoramic guitar effects suck the listener into dizzy whirlpools of cleverly synthesized orchestration.” DF The latter, awash in a “sweeping synth-and-acoustic guitar-based [sound is] one of the best-sounding songs of the entire new wave era with Smith’s soaring vocal reaching ethereal heights above the instrumental swirl.” EO
The album was virtually ignored in the US, but in their native England, Tears for Fears “Change,” “Mad World,” and “Pale Shelter” were top 5 hits. These singles “still sound remarkably fresh today wrapped up in melancholic keyboard textures and depressing sixth-form poetry.” JL
“Album tracks such as…Memories Fade have also stood the test of time well.” EA Its emotive wailing backed by a heartbeat-like percussive pounding give the song a “stark yearning.” EA
“Angst and catharsis are persistent forces, evident in Orzabal's howl, the crashes of ‘Memories Fade,’ and the claustrophobia of…Start of the Breakdown” HE and “the sculpted sonic abrasion of The Prisoner.” EA The former “is a successful venture into artier territory, a macabre play-by-play of emotional collapse that's heightened by the stark contrast of exotic percussion flourishes and a bleak, descending keyboard motif.” DF
“This magnificent collection of polished pop-rock is absolutely essential for fans of the darker side of new wave.” EA This “is not a light or easy listen;” EA “the adolescent angst and bleak, pained romanticism…sometimes come off as an adequate imitation of Joy Division, at best,” DF but while they “may be too concerned with their own petty traumas…it is a testimony to their refined pop instincts that they manage to produce this much pleasure from the pain.” DF “It is an unforgettable experience, gripping you on first listen and never letting go.” EA
Notes: A 1999 reissue adds alternate versions of “Pale Shelter,” “Mad World,” and “Change,” as well as another version of “The Way You Are,” which was a single released in between The Hurting and follow-up album Songs from the Big Chair.
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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/28/2021.
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