The iconic album The Seeds Of Love is getting a five-disc box set special edition, including a 5.1 Blu-Ray surround sound mix by Steven Wilson, due out this fall. In anticipation of the drop, we want to take a look at this cult album and see how its charms can be brought to a new audience in 5.1 surround sound.
The Seeds Of Love marks a period of change in the world of music, as well as within Tears for Fears. The band moved from synth pop to a bigger, more ambitious sound which incorporated far more grandiose ideas than their earlier albums.
Roland Orzabal, co-founder and main songwriter of Tears for Fears, explained more of the origins of the album and the challenge the band set out to accomplish: “The way we were working [in the early 80’s] was becoming too sterile. We wanted to do something more colourful, something that sounded big and warm. You cannot get that from machines. You only get that with real musicians and real players.”
The album opens with the dreamy soundscape and unmistakable 80’s drum pattern of “Woman in Chains.” The opener sways you through a sunny afternoon dream, and at first listen, you could be forgiven for thinking this was another example of archetypal 80’s sound. When the second track, “Badman's Song” kicks in, we hear more ambitious jazz tones, and powerful builds, soulful, tuneful, thoughtful and clean-cut. Guitar solos and wails of female vocals have shades of Dark Side of the Moon.
“Sowing the Seeds of Love” follows, with its anthemic chorus dragging us into the 80’s, with a sound anybody would struggle to place on a timeline. A Beatles influence can be heard, but close comparisons are unfair and would detract from what this is; an era-defining, bonafide hit parade classic.
With “Advice For The Young At Heart,” we are delved truly back into the 80’s, but with a heartfelt lyrical piece, which, with the benefit of hindsight, feels like something of a farewell to the era.
Though “Standing on the Corner of the Third World” was one of the less popular album tracks, in Steven Wilson’s mix, we may get to experience it in a new light. The dynamics of the track can be expanded, with the scope of the buildups and breakdowns fully exploited by the 5.1 mix, as new instrumentation gets introduced for the track’s experimental outro.
“Swords and Knives” continues the dreamy theme, with experimental timings and a deviation from anything that could be called 80’s pop music, these expansions into new territory give the album a feeling of advancement and growth for the group. Vocals are sparse and make way for musical ideas and riffs on dreamy tangents. “Year of the Knife” cranks things up in tempo once more for another flourish on the album, but it is the heartfelt, slightly curious, and thoroughly cinematic “Famous Last Words” that gives the album its final form, and shows us that Tears For Fears have a musical range we didn’t know they had a few years earlier when they released “Everybody Wants to Rule The World.”
Progression is the theme of The Seeds of Love all the way through, so it makes sense that prog-rock wonder Steven Wilson wanted to mix this for 5.1. As he wrote on social media, Steven mixed this album several years ago in 2015, and it was a labor of love as it is “one of [his] 5 favorite albums period.” His surround sound mix will surely show the musical ideas of this album in a new light. The ultimate “coming of age” album, now available in a more immersive soundstage – what could be more exciting?