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5.0 out of 5 stars Roland Goes It Alone
Whatever happened after the amazing "Seeds of Love" release, it looked to be the end of Tears for Fears. Curt Smith left Roland Orzabal to go it alone with the TFF name. Orzabal enlisted the help of Alan Griffiths, and although took a step backward, laid down the groundwork for a great collaboration that would reshape TFF into the last decade of the century.
As...
Published on Aug. 7 2003 by Russell Diederich

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars he almost pulled it off
While it's not a concept album as such, ELEMENTAL does seem to flow musically. Still, it sounds like an unfinished album. "Gas Giants," "Power", and "Brian Wilson Said" sort of just meander together with no apparent point-- they would have been best left separate. Sometimes, meandering works, though. "Mr. Pessimist," even...
Published on Sept. 8 1999


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4.0 out of 5 stars Tears for Fears' most underrated release is quite good!, July 1 2004
By 
guillermoj (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
Tears for Fears became a favorite of mine right from the start as they were much more than a cut above many of their synthesizer-powered contemporaries during the mid 1980s. Their angst-driven "The Hurting" was a classic and cohesive debut that signaled that these guys had a lot to say. "Songs from the Big Chair" was a more was a hit-filled production that brought soul into the equation and brought them massive commercial success all over the world. The greatest thing about that release is that it succeeded without relying on any particular pop formula. Any release that includes the anthemic "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and the jazzy "I Believe," just to name a couple, shows that these guys were going to be much more than a passing trend. Although it took many aborted tries, the duo's third release "The Seeds of Love" was another smash and introduced the world to Oleta Adams and highlighted the duo's softer side. After again struggling to produce their fourth album, Curt Smith wound up leaving the group. Roland Orzabal retained the rights to the duo's name and released "Elemental" as a Tears for Fears product.
Many critics and some fans did not like "Elemental" (although thankfully not most Amazoners), but although it sold well, many found it to be less compelling their any of their first three releases. I only agree to a degree, as "Elemental" may not a 5-star release (the rating that I give to Tear for Fear's first three releases), it easily earns 4 stars on the strength of the first 4 songs (the powerful and addictive "Elemental," the melodic and catchy "Cold," "Break It Down Again" which may be THE song that captures the essence of their first three releases, and the jazzy "Mr. Pessimist"). I love "Gas Giants" and all the other songs, with the possible exception of "Power."
In a nutshell, if you are a fan of Tears for Fears, your collection should not overlook this release. If you are not a hardcore fan, you might be better off going for one of their greatest hits compilations as they flow quite well. So 4 starts it is and be on the lookout for "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending," as it represents Curt's return to the band, but as is always the case with this group something gets in their way of getting their music out there. It appears that the issue is now label-related as Arista (the duo's new US label) changed regimes before the CD was scheduled to come out in mid 2004 and it seems like everything in the pipeline is being questioned by the new regime. Not even the UK version has a release date, but until them enjoy all off Tear for Fears' music, including the underrated "Elemental."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Missing the balance of Curt Smith, but still outstanding, March 27 2004
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
Tears for Fears were one of the rare pop groups whose music survived the 80's image and still sounds great today. After the classic "Seeds of Love", the duo broke up. Roland Orzabel recorded this follow up without Curt Smith. While the music is missing some of the vocal balance of their previous work, this CD contains one of their best songs: "Break It Down Again". Part of the song lyrics below show the introspection the band is famous for:
"It's in the way you're always hiding from the light, See for yourself you have been sitting on a time bomb, No revolution maybe someone somewhere else, Could show you something new about you and your inner song - And all the love and all the love in the world, Won't stop the rain from falling, Waste seeping underground - I want to break it down....Break it down again"
The rest of the CD has some great moments as well, and typical of the band, the lyrics and songwriting is well above the meaningless chatter of most pop songs.
The title track "Elemental" , and the driving "Dog's a Best Friends Dog" are on par with their previous work, while the smooth and moody "Gas Giants" sounds like an updated "Working Hour" intro. Of particular note is "Fish Out of Water" an obvious slam on his departed band mate.
While the music always takes me back to Virginia, and my grad school days, it still sounds up to date as well. A great addition to your collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Roland Goes It Alone, Aug. 7 2003
By 
Russell Diederich (Littleton, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
Whatever happened after the amazing "Seeds of Love" release, it looked to be the end of Tears for Fears. Curt Smith left Roland Orzabal to go it alone with the TFF name. Orzabal enlisted the help of Alan Griffiths, and although took a step backward, laid down the groundwork for a great collaboration that would reshape TFF into the last decade of the century.
As compared to "Seeds of Love" I'd say that this album is not as good, but it sure is close. With the title track Orzabal let us know that the band is still the same sans Smith, with just a bit of a twist. The song has more of an edge to it than previous TFF stuff, a little heavier sound, but still the same great Orzabal voice. After reaching out a little, Orzabal comes back into a signature sound with "Cold". "Break It Down Again" is a little funky with a Orzabal's staccato lyrics helping to drive the rhythm. The album goes back to being heavy with "Dog's a Best Friend's Dog". The album ends with "Goodnight Song", a great song with Orzabal's voice ringing, and almost bluesy electric guitar. Very recognizable format in today's music scene, a song way before its time.
Orzabal is definitely trying out his new wings of freedom. "Elemental" is definitely a transition album. You can hear the change in TFF from "Seeds of Love" to "Raoul, and the Kings of Spain" and on to "Tomcats Screaming Outside". Orzabal picked a good title for this album, as it is the building stone for the second half of his career. It's a good start, and a must own for any Orzabal or TFF fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Roland Goes It Alone, Aug. 7 2003
By 
Russell Diederich (Littleton, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
Whatever happened after the amazing "Seeds of Love" release, it looked to be the end of Tears for Fears. Curt Smith left Roland Orzabal to go it alone with the TFF name. Orzabal enlisted the help of Alan Griffiths, and although took a step backward, laid down the groundwork for a great collaboration that would reshape TFF into the last decade of the century.
As compared to "Seeds of Love" I'd say that this album is not as good, but it sure is close. With the title track Orzabal let us know that the band is still the same sans Smith, with just a bit of a twist. The song has more of an edge to it than previous TFF stuff, a little heavier sound, but still the same great Orzabal voice. After reaching out a little, Orzabal comes back into a signature sound with "Cold". "Break It Down Again" is a little funky with a Orzabal's staccato lyrics helping to drive the rhythm. The album goes back to being heavy with "Dog's a Best Friend's Dog". The album ends with "Goodnight Song", a great song with Orzabal's voice ringing, and almost bluesy electric guitar. Very recognizable format in today's music scene, a song way before its time.
Orzabal is definitely trying out his new wings of freedom. "Elemental" is definitely a transition album. You can hear the change in TFF from "Seeds of Love" to "Raoul, and the Kings of Spain" and on to "Tomcats Screaming Outside". Orzabal picked a good title for this album, as it is the building stone for the second half of his career. It's a good start, and a must own for any Orzabal or TFF fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Playful, and Creative, April 25 2003
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
After first hearing "Songs from the Big Chair" I absolutely fell in love with Tears for Fears, and the voice of Roland Orzabal. On this effort, Orzabal has essentially gone solo (with the departure of Smith), while still retaining the TFF name, and he released one of the most underrated albums of the 90's. For me, this is definitely a "mood" album, and I find when I'm down this disc always seems to find its way into my CD player... that's not to say that this is a depressing album, but that for whatever reason "Elemental" always seems to pick me up a bit.
Thematically several of the songs are darker, while still keeping an upbeat tempo. Even the most radio friendly single "Break it down again" is not lighthearted pop fluff. As Roland sings, "...they make no mention of the beauty of decay", he allows the lyrics to set the mood rather than the instrumentation. Speaking of the instrumentation, he does an excellent job of layering different textures and sounds, and it really creates a complex and beautiful atmosphere onto which he lends his trademark vocals.
In addition to "Break it down again" which most people have heard on the radio, there are several songs worthy of mention. The title track "Elemental" and "Cold" really display the honesty of Roland's songwriting (read the lyrics... they're amazing). The title of "Power" says it all, and when Roland slows it down a bit on his Beach Boys tribute "Brian Wilson Said" and the closing gem "Goodnight Song" he shows that his voice is a formidable instrument. "Mr. Pessimist" is a great song that tends to run a bit long, as with the instrumental "Gas Giants", but overall the quality of the songwriting is high, and there's great continuity throughout the album.
Although Smith is missed on this album, Roland shows that he is prepared to work solo, and that he is more than capable of carrying an album by himself from start to finish. Although it is something of a departure from "Seeds of Love" (and people expecting Seeds II may be disappointed), this is a great Roland Orzabal album, and if they give it a chance the Tears for Fears faithful will not be disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I remembered, May 17 2002
By 
kireviewer (Sunnyvale, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
Tears For Fears' third album, Sowing The Seeds was the best album of 1989. This is Tears For Fears fourth album (released 4 years later). When I first played this, I was disappointed because it wasn't Sowing the Seeds part II. So, I didn't play it for a long time. I finally pulled it our after years and played it again and was very surprised.
This is really a solo album from Roland Orzabal. Although Tears For Fears acted like a rock group, it was really a duet of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Smith was like Garfunkel in Simon and Garfunkel, in that Orzabal did most of the work, and Smith just added the vocals. In Sewing the Seeds, the group actually expanded to a trio with the addition of Oleta Adams. But, Smith and Orzabal had the infamous creative differences and Orzabal continued on his own for this album.
The songs on this album are very rich and complex. The music is lush and overlapping. But it all has a clear, bright sound. The song writing is very good.
It is hard to write what is so good about, so I will mention the minor downsides that prevent this from getting five stars. There isn't the great variety in styles as in Sowing the Seeds. After a while one song just blends into the next. Some of the songs in the middle are too popish, and the repeated choruses tend to get annoying after a number of listenings. While Roland Orzabal has a good and unique voice, it is tough for him to carry a whole album by himself. At times he sounds like he is singing with his mouth full. There used to be great interplay between Smith and Orzabal on the earlier records.
While this is a departure for Tears For Fears, it is still very nice. Fans of pop music, such as newer Sting material, we really appreciate this and probably prefer it over the older albums.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An underrated classic of massive proportions., March 1 2002
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
Coming off from the aural sonic bliss of the Seeds Of Love and surviving the departure of Curt Smith, Tears For Fears frontman Roland Orzabal has managed to pull off a masterpiece that stood as his best solo outing for eight years before Tomcats Screaming Outside toppled it. This album is sort of like The Seeds Of Love but this album is darker, far more pessismistic, and not as complex or colorful but it still ranks side by side with the Big Chair as my second favorite TFF album.
The title track kicks off this CD with a bang with a turbulent stormy ambient rock sound and a much darker feel than anything off their Seeds Of Love LP. The song starts off with chimes ringing and then it becomes a dance/rock track to make you get up on your feet and dance. Cold despite it's title is warmer and brighter than it's predecessor. Cold is a rock song to make you feel good with a fun melody and awesome beats. Break It Down Again was the sole top 40 hit off this album. It's a cool song with a beautiful melody, brilliant vocals, and cool acoustic guitars. I enjoy the snares at the beginning of the song. This song is probably the brightest song on this entire LP. We then mellow down with the dark grey cloudiness of Mr. Pessimist. I probably relate all to well with this song just simply from it's minor note feel with small amounts of major notes here and there. Mr. Pessismist is a very jazzy, moody song with electronic guitar sways in the distance and awesome bass hooks. Pessimist earns the crown as the best song on Elemental. This song is kind of like dark clouds racing across the sky with the sun desparately trying to break through the on the horizon. Dogs A Best Friends Dog is a hard rocking number that jolts you back up after the mellowness of Pessimist. Dogs is one song to crank up your stereo to. This song could have charted higher than Break It Down Again had it been released as a single. The song ends with a breeze sound effect introducing the next song. Fish Out Of Water is a more synthesized song with killer keyboards and a danceable. This song was a song that expressed Rolands grudge against his former bandmate Curt Smith. I hope Curt Smith doesn't get mad at me *giggles* but I love this song. Gas Giants is a dark almost New Agey almost interlude track with an airy feel and a cloudy day feel. Power is similar to Break It Down Again but this song is longer and better. This song is another great song. I love the synthesized voice blends in so well with the music, total contrast to the annoying computerized voice effects that have dogged a lot of todays popular music. I do enjoy the jazzy quiet part from 3:22 to 4:00. Brian Wilson Said made me buy this album. It starts off as a very 60s sound track for the first minute and 50 seconds. The song then becomes a very mellow jazzy song that could be played on a smooth jazz station. This song is beautiful. Goodnight Song is a sad yet happy song that is somewhat similar to Advice For The Young At Heart. It has a similar drum loop although played on different drums. I believe Goosnight is a tribute to the people who attended his concerts over the years. This song almost made me cry with tears of joy. This song is very deep and emotional. Where the title track was a stormy beginning to this album Goodnight Song is like a mission completed and succeeded.
It's a pity that this marvelous album was eclipsed by the grunge movement back during it's release. It was great back in 1993 when it came out and today it is an absolute classic. This is no Big Chair. I doubt TFF will ever make another big Chair again. That task might as well be left to some future band who might follow in their footsteps. Fans of the Hurting and Big Chair LPs might not care much for Elemental but fans of The Seeds Of Love will love this album. This is an album that still is fighting for it's place in the annals of rock history.
Elemental took my breath away upon first listening back in 1994. Elemental has power and edge that surpasses the 1995 follow-up Raoul & And The Kings Of Spain which somehow didn't quite match Elemental. This album maintained the crown as my favorite Roland solo album before Tomcats Screaming Outside finally overtook it. Get all of TFFs album and Tomcats Screaming Outside.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, June 6 2001
By 
Carl Mack (Palm Springs, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
If I could only have one TFF c.d in my collection it would be this one. Not as simplistic as "Songs from the Big Chair" yet no as overproduced as "Sowing The Seeds" it is a joy to listen to from start to finish (o.k., with maybe the expection of "Gas Giants"). Her is the breakdown:
Elemental- Brooding synthesized rock number 9 out of 10
Cold- Pop with a rock edge-think harder edged songs of Crowded House or Squeeze- 10 out of 10
Break It Down Again- Lightweight pop- popular single- 8 out of 10.
Mr. Pessimist- Brooding atmospheric creative song 8 out of 10
Dog's a Best Friend's Dog- Flat out rocker with fantastic guitar work and alternating snarling and soaring vocals 10 of 10.
Fish Out Of Water- Mid Tempo rock number, powerful attack on former Tear Curt Smith 9 out of 10
Gas Giant- Slow, lethargic, unintersting instrumental 2 out of 10
Power- Title says it all 10 out of 10
Brian Wilson Said- segues from Beach Boys to Cocktail Jazz 7 out of 10
Goodnight Song- another porpular cut played on radio a lot 6 out of 10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mature Album for Maturing Gen Xers, Dec 17 2000
By 
GARY G PATRICK (SPRINGFIELD, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
Like many in my generation (born in '69), I was first captivated by TFF's "Songs From the Big Chair" when I was in high school. I listened over and over to that record and to "The Hurting" as I dwelled on my own unhappy childhood. I eagerly awaited "The Seeds of Love" release when in college and was mostly happy with that effort. TFF's growth musically seemed to parallel my personal growth as I approached adulthood.
The first time I put on "Elemental," I was blown away! I already knew Orzabal was a potent lyricist. It was now clear to me that he was a true musical genius as well. It also seemed obvious that Curt Smith had been holding him back considerably on the "Seeds" album. Sadly, the childhood friends had to part ways in order for Orzabal to produce this near-masterpiece.
While the advent of the C.D. as a music format has given us fantastic audio clarity, it has changed the way I and, I presume, most others listen to music. I rarely listen to an entire album anymore; rather I use the skip button or program features to play my favorite tracks. "Elemental" is one of the few exceptions, an album that demands to be played start to finish everytime. While "Break it Down..." holds its own as a single, it is primarily a hook tossed out to lure one into the album as a whole. It also serves as a transition piece for those of us who liked previous TFF material.
Sonicly, this album is all ear candy. It is a slickly produced modern symphony of guitars, keyboards, and drums, all wraped in Rolands alternately delicate and soaring vocals. He backs himself vocally on most tracks to great effect; Curt Smith is never missed. Many tracks seguay (sp?) musically into the next, creating the the sense of a journey more than a group of songs. Orzabal's usual high level of poetry is present in the lyrics as well. The obviously painful split with Smith serves as inspiration on several tracks, as others here have pointed out. He also gives insight into his strugle to reconcile the public's perception of him and his perception of himself, as he does in this piece from "Cold,"
-"She saw me on the television underneath the sun. [obvious reference to "The Seeds of Love"] Thought I was warm like a mother, lover, brother. Brothter she was wrong.... Seems she thought of me as some mystic, fatalistic, mystical guru. Me, I haven't got a clue."
The journey begins with the title track, opening with a drumbeat reminicent of "The Hurting" which melts into the background behind Orzabal fairly shouting "Welcome to the real world!" Its as if he is telling us that "Everbody Wants to Rule the World" is an ideal that doesn't fit with the reality of adulthood. The journey continues through several songs, alternating pace, with nary a weak link save for maybe "Dog's a Best Friend's Dog." Momemtum builds to the fabulous climactic eighth track, "Power." Orzabal washes the listener with wave after wave of his own sonic, vocal, and lyrical power, building a steady tension. Without warning, he shifts to the beautiful and etheral "Brian Wilson Said." Within three minutes, he has melted away the tension and set us back down to earth. He then sends us home with the final track, "Good Night Song." To my ear, Roland has never sounded so good as he does here. Ironicly, the lyrics proclaim:
-"My voice is aching; I'm tounge tied; the sounds we are making are so uninspired."
This song seems to be not just a fairwell to the listener, but the the TFF of the past as well. Luckily, my fear that it might signal the end of Orzabal's recording career was wrong. He went on to record again. If you are looking for more "Shout" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," you won't find it here. If you like "The Seeds of Love," however, you will probably love this ablum. "Elemental" was a real turning point for Roland Orzabal. On previous albums, he had confronted his past ("Big Chair" and the "Hurting"), and confronted social issues while dabling in sonic atistry ("Seeds"). On "Elememtal," he honed that artistry while confronting the immediate conflicts of his then current life, apparently finally willing to let go of his past. Sadly, it was not much of a comercial success; "Elemental" was lost in the sea of the prevailing "grunge" movement of the time. However it has aged well. Seven years on, it still sounds great without sounding dated. It is a soothing soul clensing experience for me, and vindication of my loyalty to TFF through the 1980s and early 90s.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'Tear for Fear' album is still pop with substance, Oct. 13 2000
By 
Jon Warshawsky "Sinatra Guru" (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Elemental (Audio CD)
I bought 'Elemental' when it was released, and attended the tour, Roland Orzabal's first as a solo act. He remains a serious talent compared to most popular musicians, and 'Elemental' is a pretty solid album. It builds on the electro-synthesizer theme that began with the 'Seeds of Love' previously, adding a few big hooks -- 'Break it down again' and 'Fish out of water', and Orzabal still has wonderful voice. Too often he drowns himself in echo. 'Elemental' alternates between moody and catchy. 'Mr. Pessimist' may be the best vocal, showcasing Orzabal's distinctive voice and keeping the curtain of sound behind it to a proper level.
While the album works, overall, it seems to rely on studio tricks, reverb and echo to the point of distraction. All of this is professionally done, but I probably play the 'Songs from the Big Chair' album more just because it seems more musically 'honest'. If you are a TFF fan, you will enjoy 'Elemental', but it is probably a step or two behind 'Big Chair.' Make this your second purchase.
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Elemental
Elemental by Tears for Fears (Audio CD - 1996)
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