Offering their own spin on modern electro-pop, the masterful '80s duo return from a long hiatus with plenty of gas left in the tank.

If The Tipping Point were the debut from a duo making electronic pop for grown-ups, it would be a formidable calling card for a new band. Coming from Tears for Fears, it's both disappointing and impressive; who would expect a legacy act that hasn't released an album since 2004 to still be vital in 2022?

And yet Tipping Point is vital, if not as fully formed as it could be. Songs like "Long, Long, Long Time" and the title track don't recall previous Tears for Fears records, but are instead constructed on the updated sounds explored by groups like Shaed, Metric, and Sylvan Esso. With its hard-swinging Ladytron vibe and a paranoid, heart-racing lunge into the chorus, "My Demons" shows Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal's mastery of pop dynamics, while the glitchy wibbles of "Stay" make it a calming, smoothed-out blanket of a closer.

But Tears still find organic opportunities for human vulnerability and connection. Orzabal's voice has gained a deeper resonance that gives "Rivers of Mercy" a tender intimacy, and "No Small Thing" is the sound of a man defiantly holding on to the one thing that keeps the darkness at bay.

Not everything lands, and not everything that lands sticks. Even so, there aren't many 17-year hiatuses that end by presenting a group with plenty of gas left in the tank. "When I'm 40 years older/When I'm wrinkled and wise," sings Orzabal — and The Tipping Point makes a compelling argument that it will be worth the wait. Grade: B

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