One of the good things to come out of the Coronavirus lockdown was the ability for musicians to sit and record performances at home. One of my favourites was a video of Curt Smith from Tears For Fears, performing an acoustic version of Mad World with his daughter: such great harmonies on a song that continues to evolve through the years.
It’s hard to talk about this album, the band’s debut, without mentioning Donnie Darko. Prior to Richard Kelly’s film, Pale Shelter might have been regarded as the stand-out track on the record, even though Mad World was its highest-charting single. Looking back, even though the version re-recorded version by Michael Andrews for the Donnie Darko soundtrack is stripped back to its bare elements, there’s still something charming in the original’s childlike structure. It’s almost a throwaway piece of synth-pop, as simple and effective as Shout, the song that opened their next album, Songs From The Big Chair.
Of the two albums, I prefer Songs From The Big Chair. The songs feel elemental, as though their accessing another plane entirely and the production is just better, more assured. There are elements of The Hurting which feel underdeveloped and rushed, although I’m sure some Tears For Fears fans will prefer this unvarnished version of the band.
Hit: Mad World
Hidden Gem: The Hurting