Along with Songs from the Big Chair
, The Seeds of Love
was part of a one-two artistic punch in the late '80s that situated Tears for Fears as one of the decade's more ambitious pop groups. But at the time, Tears was more a platform for Roland Orzabal than a true band -- Curt Smith is present only on the smash "Sowing the Seeds of Love" (his only co-writing credit), while Ian Stanley
was replaced by Nicky Holland
as a keyboardist and Orzabal's songwriting partner. Like their other albums, The Seeds of Love
continues the concept of moving from hurting to healing to beginning anew (the hit "Sowing the Seeds of Love") to growing apart. The songs feature expansive melodies instead of blatant hooks, and the sound is more grounded in soul and gospel on songs like "Woman in Chains," the updated Philly-soul strain of "Advice for the Young at Heart" and "Badman's Song." Orazabal's passionate vocals are well matched by Oleta Adams
' fervent contributions. The group even dabbles in jazz on "Standing on the Corner of the Third World," the fabulous "Swords and Knives," and the slow-burning "Year of the Knife." As for the title track, it manages to be insanely intricate as well as catchy. Full of arcane references, lovely turns of phrase, and perfectly matched suite-like parts, it updates the orchestral grandiosity -- though not the actual sound -- of the Beatles
' psychedelic period. It's completely different from the polished, atmospheric soul that surrounds it, but paradoxically, it's also the album's cornerstone. "Sowing the Seeds of Love" is the apotheosis of Orzabal and Smith's evolution together, and foreshadowed their impending split: the two parted on bad terms during the album, ensuring yet another change in the band's direction thereafter.