Sowing the Seeds of Love – Tears For Fears (1989)

Sowing the Seeds of Love  album cover
Sowing the Seeds of Love album cover

The last few weeks of my college years was bittersweet time. The chance to move back to North Carolina was exciting, but I knew I would be missing the friends I made in Ohio. Nearly five years had passed since my freshman year and many of the bands I enjoyed back then had by now matured to mainstream pop. Tears For Fears was one of those bands, who’s sound by 1989 had evolved to a sophisticated adult contemporary sound that was slick compared to the sad boy mope of The Hurting .

The core of Tears For Fears was in the process of breaking apart as the third album Sowing The Seeds of Love saw Roland Orzabal write much of the material on his own. Curt Smith was only credited as a co-writer on the title track, one of the album’s many hits. In the place of Smith came keyboardist Nicky Holland who would replace Smith at some point during to prolonged recording sessions. Sowing the Seeds of Love would also introduce Oleta Adams, in a trend black female vocalists augmenting English former new wave artists.

Her contribution changes the Tears For fears sound significantly, to the point where “Woman in Chains” could pass for gospel or soul. Sowing the Seeds of Love also included numerous psychedelic influences, but updates the style with a slick polished studio sound.

Phil Collins played drums on many tracks, endowing much of the album with muscular rhythms. The most striking thing about Sowing the Seeds of Love was it’s fresh hybrid sound, a sound that  managed to be dramatic, laid back and still be sad  and inward looking. It was if Orzabal had grown up with many of the songs reflecting more mature themes of love and loss with Hallmark card mass appeal.

Of all the Tears For Fears albums, Sowing the Seeds of Love was the most consistent sounding, without the peaks and valleys of The Hurting or the mainstream pop aspirations of Songs From the Big Chair.

It would also be the end of an era for the original Tears for Fears line up as more and more the band became a Orzabal project. After Sowing the Seeds.. I pretty much lost track of the band although they continued to record well into the ’90s. Curt Smith’s insistence on a more relaxed release schedule clashed with Orzabal’s, so the two departed in 1991. Both Smith and Orzabal have released at least one solo album under their own names and have reunited more recently.


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