Songs from the Big Chair is Tears for Fears’ second album, and it was released in 1985. This album is easily the duo’s biggest album ever. At the time of its release, Songs from the Big Chair peaked at number two in the UK and at number one in the United States. While the album itself only contains eight songs, at least half of the songs on the album were released as singles.
The album opens with “Shout,” which was the second single to be released off of Songs from the Big Chair. This is one of the first songs I remember hearing from the duo, back when it was a single. Even though I was only in fourth grade at the time, I really loved it. With its catchy chorus and musical sounds, it’s no wonder that “Shout” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The next song on the album is “The Working Hour,” which has more a jazz-influenced sound on it, which is exemplified with the prominent saxophone at the beginning of the song. It’s not a bad song, but it’s definitely less commercial than “Shout” was.
Next on the album is “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which was the third single from Songs from the Big Chair. It’s also a song where the lead vocals are done by Curt Smith instead of Roland Orzabal. This has a very light and airy feel to it, and it’s also one of the more “pop” sounding songs on the album. This song also hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and it ranks up there as one of my favorite songs by Tears for Fears.
The next song is “Mothers Talk,” which was the first single released from Songs from the Big Chair. It’s a more straightforward “synthpop” song than the songs that appeared previously on the album. It’s a good song, but it’s not as pop friendly as the other singles. I can easily see why this song didn’t become a big hit in the charts. This is followed by “I Believe.” A re-recording of this song was released as the final single from Songs from the Big Chair. The original recording is a ballad, which has a bit of a jazz sound to it; the drums have a sound more associated with jazz, and you can also hear a saxophone in the background. This song also focuses heavily on piano and keyboard. It’s a nice song, but it definitely wasn’t very commercial, especially for the mid-1980s.
This is followed by “Broken,” which is a short, very upbeat synth-based track. It serves as a lead-in to “Head Over Heels,” which was released as the fourth single from Songs from the Big Chair. On the album, “Head Over Heels” is paired with a live recording of “Broken”; however, when the song was released as a single, the live portion of “Broken” was edited out. But when you listen to “Head Over Heels,” you can hear some of the elements from “Broken” in it. “Head Over Heels” is another slower song on the album, but it has a more “pop” sound than “I Believe.” The single peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
Then the album segues directly into “Listen,” which is the closing song on the album. It’s a very slow song, and it definitely sounds like a song to close an album. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not one I really go out of my way to listen to.
Overall, Songs from the Big Chair is a well-done album, and it’s definitely become one of the classic albums released in the 1980s. However, it’s a little disappointing that Tears for Fears was never able to replicate the success they achieved with Songs from the Big Chair.