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Tears for Fears 

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (Universal)

Even at Tears for Fears' creative peak -- their synth-blackened 1983 debut, The Hurting, and monster hits "Shout" and "Head Over Heels" from 1985's Songs From the Big Chair -- the group crafted pop songs brimming with sophisticated world-weariness.

That same sense of stylish melancholy permeates the oft-delayed Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, the first Tears for Fears album involving both Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith since 1989's The Seeds of Love. The ringing "Call Me Mellow" -- featuring a falsetto chorus as shiny as a new penny -- stands up to any of their 1980s hits, while the punchy musical-theater piano and trumpets of the title track beg for the spectacle of a choreographed dance. Elsewhere, Ending brims with a rainbow of orchestration that conjures the power-pop sides of the Beatles or Jellyfish, including unsettled melodies and subtle electronic beats ("Quiet Ones"), folky-psychedelic dizziness ("Ladybird"), and soap-opera strings ("Closest Thing to Heaven"). Although a few songs near the end are too self-indulgently lush and melodramatic -- "Last Days on Earth" and "Secret World," in particular -- Happy Ending's tunes prove that being old before one's time doesn't need to feel burdensome.

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