Tears For Fears have put out the first record in 18 years, The Tipping Point. Much like Donda and Chinese Democracy this record has been whispered about in music circles for a few years and people began to doubt that it would see the light of day. What we do have is a record that far surpasses Kanye and Gn’R and is more like The Chicks’ Gaslighter…a long awaited record that delivers on all fronts. The record on a whole is a mature, elegant and lovingly crafted album that will be savoured by Tears for Fear fans and general music fans alike. I could go on and on, but we are here to look at the opening track No Small Thing.
If you have ever listened to Prime Time Jukebox, you have heard me go on and on about how the first track teaches the listener about how they should listen to the rest of the record. No Small Thing is an excellent example of this and how a band can use an opening track to its fullest potential. First of all, the track itself is extremely eclectic. You initially get hints of Richard Thompson and Billy Bragg, but you are then greeted with a Rusted Root type bridge with hoots and hollers…but wait…there’s more…bird calls? Also, an INXS style guitar and…space synth…brings the entire track to a dramatic end. On the face of it, you would think that such a busy track would fall apart in a mess. However, Orzabal and Smith are able to keep the song tight and everything works. That is a roadmap for the record, which is a variety of style from folk, to straight pop, to synth opera, to prog, to good ol’ fashioned Brit Pop.
Lyrically, this track touches on a number of themes, which will come up in the rest of the record. The track begins with a harkening to the past with the Richard Thompson-espe folk and the image of the candyman selling sweets. However, this is quickly undercut with some modern day wisdom “Don’t buy into the fairytale / Just be good to yourself.” This song also speaks to the power of love and connection as they keep going back to how a love of a woman has brought them through suffering and “hell.” There is a lot of looking back in this track and on this record. However, they never fall into despair or regret for the past. It is more about what the past has taught them and how it has shaped them into who they are today.
I adore this track and I am sure it will be in the top 5 of 2022. The acoustic guitar folk notes and little jam band hints hooked me within the first 10 seconds. What this song does so well is how it looks back at the past to highlight lessons for the present / future without falling into regret or cheesy nostalgia. Moreover, I find the vocals very powerful and epic in scale. This is a tremendous song that was worth waiting 18 years for.
Listen to No Small Thing