30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Now that the 1980's have faded from sight, bands like Tears For Fears can be considered underground music. You won't hear anything from "Tomcats Screaming Outside" on the radio today, or see a video on MTV--and this is a relief. By a giant leap Roland Orzabal has outdone anything he contributed to while as Tears For Fears. It's been six years since the last Tears For Fears cd "Raoul And The Kings Of Spain" and "Tomcats" offers up a more contemporary feel with plenty of memorable melodies like the lead-off single "Low Life", "Hypnoculture", "Bullets For Brains" and particularly "For The Love Of Cain". Roland has managed to move forward without repeating his past successes and without alienating his fans. There's a nice variety of styles on "Tomcats" to keep things fresh like the Matrix sounding "Ticket To The World", the ambient textures of "Under Ether" and "Day By Day By Day By Day", the grungy "Dandelion" and the drums and bass of "Maybe Our Days Are Numbered". And if I haven't been a broken record with my other reviews already, "Tomcats" is just another in a long list of great cds that few will have the privilege of experiencing. This is is pleasant in the sense of not having to hear great music overplayed and unpleasant in the sense that those who are listening to today's manufactured pop will not know how good pop music could be if record companies and music listeners didn't abandon musicians who they liked at one time--like for example, Tears For Fears. Oh well, this is for the true fans anyway! I'd recommend it to those who are tired of the radio and unfamiliar with Tears For Fears (though how is that possible when I still hear "Shout", "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" and "Head Over Heels" still being played frequently on radio stations).
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2006
When Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal had their acrimonious split as Tears For Fears, each would go in their separate directions. Smith would first attempt a solo effort by recording 1993's "Soul On Board" before eventually joining forces with Charlton Pettus to form "Mayfield". Orzabal would retain the Tears For Fears name and begin a collaboration with Alan Griffiths. While Orzabal kept the Tears For Fears name, he continued to operate Tears For Fears as he always had - as a "project". As a "project", when Curt and Roland were Tears For Fears, they made up the band's nucleus and they would bring in surrounding musicians to help them complete the picture. Despite Griffiths' deep involvement, he never was named as a replacement for Smith. While the post Curt Smith work wasn't nearly as commercially successful as the Smith-Orzabal era, Tears For Fears continued to produce high quality music. In 1995, Orzabal and Tears For Fears would move to Sony music. Despite creating one of the most unique albums in recent memory - the Spanish-infused "Raoul and the Kings of Spain", the album was the least commercially successful of any album sold under the Tears For Fears umbrella. Many felt that Sony did not adequately promote Tears For Fears - thus leading to the poor sales. Eventually Sony would drop Orzabal. It would be five+ years before Orzabal and Griffiths would create anything new. For 2001's "Tomcats Screaming Outside", the decision was made to release the album under "Roland Orzabal" instead of Tears For Fears. Alan Griffiths remained on-board for this effort as well as the inclusion of drummer Nick D'Virgilio from Spock's Beard. In this case, it didn't matter because once again despite poor album sales - Orzabal and company once again deliver a unique and incredible collection of music.
Following the release of "Songs From the Big Chair", Orzabal and Tears For Fears moved away from a synth-pop sound to a more guitar-laden "natural" sound. As mentioned, for "Raoul and the Kings of Spain" Orzabal really thought out of the box and brought Spanish influence into his music - including the use of a Spanish classical guitar. Things change drastically for "Tomcats Screaming Outside" as Orzabal employs a Modern Rock sound. Instead of classical guitar, Orzabal returns to using a heavy use of synthesizers, keyboards, as well as making use of computers. It is probably the most use of synthesizers by Orzabal since "Songs From the Big Chair". Instead of an 80s sounding synth-pop, Orzabal once again creates a very unique sound - and a refreshing change of pace from much of the cookie cutter sounding music of the early 2000s.
I'm still surprised that this collection didn't get radio airplay. Despite the fact that many may consider this collection "experimental", there are several singles that I could have easily found to be radio-friendly - such as: "Ticket to the World", "Low Life", and "For the Love of Cain". The opening track is "Ticket to the World". On this track, we are immediately treated to some of the terrific synthesizers and keyboards that are going to be a footprint on this album. And while it will be the melody that will shine on this song, Orzabal demonstrates different vocal styles on the verse and the chorus. "Low Life" will also have the synthesizers, but will also add an infusion of guitar work. Orzabal shows his trademark sounding vocals when he starts singing "You can have it all...." "Low Life" also has a nice "build-up" as the track progresses. "For the Love of Cain" is one of two songs on the collection (the other being "Dandelions") that have the strongest guitar influence. This song showcases Orzabal "digging deep down" on the vocals - as he did on "Woman in Chains". In this song, Orzabal draws analogies to Cain and Abel as someone who schemes, yet wants to love.
As mentioned, the other track with a heavy guitar influence is "Dandelions". This song has some heavy guitar work that reminds me of Lenny Kravitz's guitar. Orzabal's vocals are right on the money as well. In this song, Orzabal uses a metaphor of a man being "blown apart like a dandelion" by a strong woman.
Perhaps the most interesting and innovative track on the collection is "Hypnoculture". The song has an urban feel to start with. The bass work is incredible on this track - this is going to give the song its appeal. You can even hear something resembling a sample of Murray Head's "One Night in Bangkok". I also enjoyed the two minute musical intro. There are horn-like sounds (I believe these were programmed) and they fit perfectly on this song. Orzabal's vocals aren't as deep here, but that is what this song needed. I'd also put "Under Ether" in the experimental category. As the title indicates, this pretty much is a haunting song as Orzabal builds a metaphor with Ether being a poison in many different ways. The synthesizer/guitar combo creates this haunting feel. This song also has a nice gradual build-up. Another haunting song is "Day by Day by Day by Day by Day". This song has a slower and simpler melody than many of the others, but Orzabal gets a great opportunity to highlight his power vocals. It is on this track that Orzabal demonstrates some of his strongest vocals on the collection.
Two other tracks worth mentioning are "Hey Andy" and "Kill Love". I'd also categorize them in the experimental category. "Hey Andy" is highlighted by some great synthesizer work. "Hey Andy" has a gentle segue into "Kill Love". "Kill Love" is another song where Orzabal builds up the vocals as the song progresses.
The other songs "Bullets For Brains", "Snowdrop", and "Maybe Our Days Are Numbered" are solid tracks as well. In fact there isn't a bad track on this album. I wish the lyrics were in the liner notes, but that's the only shortcoming. This is a top-notch collection. Highly recommended.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2001
I have to be honest and say that this is the first review of any type of recorded - or written - material that I've submitted on Amazon.com. Why now? Quite simply to further relay the message that this is an amazing piece of music.
I have been a tff fan since "The Hurting" and have continued to be amazed by each release since. After seeing tff live on the "Seeds of Love" tour, I realized that talent like Roland's is extremely rare in the overproduced (hyped!) world of music. As is stated in another review of this album, Roland's voice is an instrument in and of itself. The power and range his vocal chords convey are utterly breathtaking.
OK, on to the cd. I never like to give a comment after only a few listens of anything, but it took less than two on this disc to realize there was something special going on. Roland hits you right at the start with the hard driving "Ticket to the World" which showcases both his vocal and guitar talent. One listen, and I guarantee, you'll be hooked. The first single "Low Life" follows, and the cd just continues to impress and amaze from there.
"Bullets For Brains" is my favorite track on the cd, followed closely by "Day By Day By Day By Day By Day", "For the Love of Cain", and "Snowdrop". Needless to say, all songs on the disc frame the unique talent of this incredibly gifted singer/songwriter.
It's tragic that music like this is only available on import in the US. I guess the "mall" stores have to make room for 27 facings of the newest N'Sync and Britney cd's before they will consider some quality pop recordings. My hat's off to Amazon for continuing to supply the hard to find stuff, and giving us a forum to review it. Keep up the good work!
Bottom line, buy this cd even if you're a "casual" Tears for Fears fan, you will NOT be disappointed.
Keep up the outstanding work Roland, and tour the US soon, OK?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I got this when it came out on import about a year ago, and I'm still listening to it regularly. I've had more people say "What is this? I like it!" when I'm playing this album for guests than anything I've ever bought. Not every cut is superlative, but all are acceptable, and some get into your head.
The two that are best seem to be inspired by drug addiction tragedies - Low Life (best on the album, I think) and Snowdrop. But they're not depressing, just thought-provoking.
Even though I like these two best, there are no really bad cuts (though a couple took some listening to appreciate them). Several cuts show more techno influence than I've heard Roland do before, but it's not techno for its own sake. It's just a bit crisper and sharper than Raoul and the Kings of Spain...It sounds fresh and interesting to me, perhaps because I don't listen to obscure techno fringe bands. If you like the last few Tears for Fears albums, you are likely to enjoy this as well.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2001
[....] This new one from former Tear Roland Orzabal at once retains the sound of TFF but strives to move ahead without losing sight of the great melodic structure that Tears were known for. It's so great to hear Roland's voice soaring on tracks like "Low Life', it makes me wonder, what the hell is wrong with the American record labels for not signing this excellent album! It just shows again what a sad state the music business in America is today, when great new releases by talented artists like Roland, Sneaker Pimps, James and Paradise Lost (to name just a few) are passed on by U.S. labels in favor of the latest teen-pop crud or Green Day wanna-be. Do yourself a favor, and save a few extra bucks for this ridiculously priced album. You'll be glad you finally bought something outside the grip of the major U.S. labels, and enjoy it twice as much!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Roland Orzabal decides to go with out the "Tears for Fears" moniker for his latest release, "Tomcats Screaming Outside". Although this appears to be his first solo effort, the last two Tears for Fears albums, "Elemental" and "Raoul and the Kings of Spain", were just that. Once again he collaborates with Alan Griffiths on this album, penning more than half of the songs together. The songs just keep getting better with each passing album created by this partnership. You can hear the chemistry between these two on this album.
For those that still enjoy Tears for Fears and continue to follow them even after Curt Smith left will find this album to their tastes. A little more edgy than Tears for Fears of old with just a hint of techno, Orzabal didn't depart far from his past. Much of the album has the same astral feel to the music, and the lyrics are poetic and meaningful. Orzabal continues to utilize complex musical arrangements to provide a very deep sound. The formula from Tears for Fears is still used, and still works.
This is definitely Orzabal's best release since the departure of Smith, and it shows, as most of the songs on this album are keepers. "Snowdrop" is a very big sounding song with Orzabal's harmonized voice, almost hypnotic at times with Taiko type drums throughout. The opening track, "Ticket to the World", "Under Ether" and "Dandelion" shows the new, heavier edge that Orzabal has been experimenting. "For the Love of Cain", "Low Life" and "Hey Andy!" sound like a kickback from the old Tears for Fears days.
If you loved Tears for Fears, don't hesitate to pick this one up.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2001
I think what I like best about Roland Orzabal, and this holds for his entire career from TFF through now, is his interest in and command of all shades of the modern music spectrum, from hard driving modern rock to pure, fluent lyricism. He's not married to a signature sound, and this curiosity and sense of adventure is evident in every song. Maybe that's what keeps his output so fresh. Even a longtime fan such as myself was taken by surprise by the currency, the now-ness, of Tomcats Screaming Outside (I ordered the import some time ago, not knowing if it would ever be released stateside).
I hope this CD receives the attention it deserves. Perhaps people are ready to get serious about music once again. In any event, good music tends to find its way to appreciative ears. Save yourself some time and find Tomcats before it finds you. This is groundbreaking music from an accomplished artist.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2003
I was just discussing the sorry state of the current music scene with some co-workers. I brought up Tears For Fears as being the
last decent band, of course I was laughed out of the room. We take turns listening to music every day and on my next day, I
brought in Elemental, Rauol & Tomcats. Since there were really
no big hits on these three I figured noone would know who it was.
So I played these 3 in order and afterwards everyone was asking
"WHO WAS THAT". I explained that it was Roland Orzabal. WHO?
HE'S GREAT!, was the general reply. Then I told them it was also
Tears For Fears, and that shut them up. Needless to say, I made
a few copies for those doubters!
I paid a bit more for my import copy of Tomcats in July 2001 and
it is worth every bit. The domestic copy had the misfortune of
being released on 9-11. But before that tragedy I listened to this CD constantly. I cannot express my love of this CD, it was
like a epiphany to me. I have been a TFF fan since 1985 and was
so sad that the duo split. But Roland kept on going and so did Curt, although most of his solo stuff is a bit spotty. Tomcats
has Rock, Techno, Jazz Fusion all rolled up into one. Best songs
are Lowlife, Bullets, Dandelion & Hey Andy. But the whole CD is
And for even greater news, Roland & Curt will have a new TFF CD
out later this year. I don't think I can wait that long.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2002
I can't really describe how great this CD really is-ASTOUNDING!
Not in years has rock sounded this good. I strongly despise so much of todays R&B rap rock. I lost interest in rock music pretty much altogether by the beginning of 2001.
That all changed when I got this CD by the former Tears For Fears frontman Roland Orzabal. This CD to me has saved rock music to me and not in years have I actually loved a new rock album. Tears For Fears by the way are my all-time favorite group with 1989s Seeds Of Love being their strongest work.
The truth is Roland has been a solo musician for a decade now and has issued two albums under the TFF name. 1993s Elemental was an incredible masterpiece that was a worthy successor to The Seeds Of Love. Raoul & The Kings Of Spain was also a great album too but it didn't quite match to it's predeccessor.
Tomcats however beats out both of those albums and to me this CD ranks as one of my all-time favorite rock albums of all time. Not since 1997s Callings All Stations by Genesis has a rock album awestruck me this much. This CD has a very early 90s sound on most of the tracks and also has some electronic influences giving the album a more organic sound. This CD almost seems like it was recorded in 1991 and released ten years later. I didn't celebrate it's release date because it came out on that infamous day 9-11. But anyway this CD to me has been a savior of rock to me because I had lost a lot of interest in new rock music. It all sounds so mundane.
Ticket To The World begins this CD with a kick with very early 90s grunge-esque sound, agressive guitar riffs and awesome drums and a very fun vibe that will make you feel good. Low Life is one of my favorites. Its a very heavy techno rockish with a heavy danceable techno beat and agressive guitar riffs, electronic keyboards. Hypnoculture is one of my favorites off this CD. It's a very upbeat dance number that has a very 1990ish sound and has some African influences. Hypnoculture could almost fit on The Seeds Of Love but then again maybe not. I only wish it were longer. I kind of notice it shares similar chord structures with Start Of The Breakdown and Always In The Past. Bullets For Brains is a darker more ominous electronic sounding rock song with an overall minor note feel giving the song a darker more brooding feel. For The Love Of Cain is less intense than Bullets and much brighter. I would consider this a power ballad although I find it too upbeat to be considered that. FTLOC reminds me alot of Woman In Chains because it shares a similar chord structure and the song has a similar atmosphere. Under Ether is much darker and probably the darkest song on the album. It's a very ominous brooding track with a bit of an Egyptian sound to it. I could play this when watching The Mummy and Mummy Returns because this song has a very dark theme to it like the movie. Day By Day By Day By Day By Day is to me springtime music. Day By Day is a very mellow simple little number with a warm sound and a sunny day melody. Dandelion is a very grunge-esqe song with angry guitar riffs and a very early to mid 90s sound. Hey Andy is absolute radiant. Its a very late 80s sounding piece with techno drum beats, ambient organ keyboards, and an eerie feel. I would say this song is like linking the style of 1989 with the style of 2000. Kill Love to me reminds me a bit of Mr. Pessimistic except this song is a bit faster and far less jazzy than Pessimistic and not as cold. This is another one of my favorites. Kill Love begins with an eerie airy sound and then builds up into a dark but upbeat tecno rockish number. Snowdrop is more like something that could have recorded in 1990. I happen to love music from that time and Snowdrop sounds like something that sounds like it was recorded in 1990, transported to 2001 and then released. Maybe Our Days Are Numbered is a very melancholy closer to this incredible masterpiece. While most of the album is sort of agressive this song is more on the passionate side of melancholy. The title suits the music well.
There isn't enough I can say about this incredible. Reading the good reviews that critics have given this album this album deserves every one it gets. I'm kind of surprised at the low rating of only 4.2 as of when writing this review. This CD to me deserves to be at least a 4.6. This CD is an asounting work of art. And I didn;t think that Roland would top Elemental but he did. Plus even better I've heard about TFF working on a new album project too. This should be an interesting time in music. Until that album comes out I have Tomcats Screaming Outside to listen to. This CD is worth the money.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2002
Solo records by 80's band members are spotty prospects. For every good Morrissey, there's a Nick Heywood or Midge Ure - good for two tracks tops. Since Tears for Fears awful Raoul and the King of Spain was a solo-under-band-name, you'd be excused if the idea of Roland Orzabal alone induced yawns. How is Tomcats Screaming Outside, his official debut? Except for vocal i.d., which smacks of "Shout", there's little remotely TFF about TSO. Orzabal's absorbed a decade's worth of electronica. He's sharpened his gift for hooks with layers of jagged guitar and state-of-the-art drums. There's no nostalgia factor in these twelve tracks, no reliving past glories. If you want to dismiss him (as I did), that's your business, but his is a better electronic record than most of the young bucks who cut their synthetic teeth on The Hurting.