In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stanton Swihart observed the album's "polished, atmospheric soul", labelling it "the apotheosis of Orzabal and Smith's evolution". A review of the 1999 reissue by AllMusic's Bruce Eder pointed towards "the best vocals in Tears for Fears' history" and "their most ambitious production". Appraising the 2020 reissue for Record Collector, John Earls alluded to Orzabal's "obsessive determination to achieve Steely Dan levels of technical perfection", while crediting his "melodic gifts" with preventing the album from "becoming too overblown". On the other hand, Ira Robbins of Trouser Press had praise for the title track and Adams's soulful vocals, but described the bulk of the album as "absurdly overintellectualized" and "almost impenetrable".
Songs from the Big Chair is the second studio album by English pop rock band Tears for Fears, released on 25 February 1985 by Phonogram Records. The album peaked at number two in the UK and at number one in the US, becoming a multi-platinum seller and the band's most successful studio album to date. Songs from the Big Chair spawned the commercially successful singles "Mothers Talk", "Shout", "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", "Head over Heels", and "I Believe".
In an interview for the 2006 deluxe version booklet, Curt Smith noted that "We were very introverted on The Hurting; it was a very dark album. We found the need to be more outgoing on The Big Chair".
Near the end of the completion of the album Roland Orzabal played two simple chords on his acoustic guitar that was the foundation of the song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". Initially not very interested to work on it, Orzabal was convinced to write a song based on those two chords and eventually added the chorus line. The most straightforward song on the album, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was completed in about a week and the last track recorded for the album.
The album reached number two on the UK Albums Chart and spawned five commercially successful singles: "Mothers Talk" (UK #14), "Shout" (UK #4), "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (UK #2), "Head over Heels" (UK #12), and "I Believe" (UK #23).
The radio-friendly "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" marked the band's breakthrough in the United States; both this single and its follow-up, "Shout", reached number one in the US. "Songs From the Big Chair" also reached number one on the Billboard 200 and sold five million copies in the US alone. In the UK, the album spent 79 consecutive weeks on the album chart, remaining on the chart for eighteen months until September 1986.
Songs from the Big Chair received generally positive reviews. Barry McIlheney of Melody Maker wrote that "none of you should really be too surprised that Tears for Fears have made such an excellent album", calling it "an album that fully justifies the rather sneering, told-you-so looks adopted by Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal on the sleeve", before concluding, "An awful lot of people will, of course, go on and on about overcoats, The Lotus Eaters and an alleged lack of depth. And an awful lot of people will have to eat an awful lot of words." In Sounds Johnny Waller gave the album four and a half stars out of five and said that compared with their debut, "Tears for Fears have lovingly crafted a new masterpiece with softer, smoky vocals, more tempting melodies and less abrasive rhythms". He called the record "glorious pop" and that "within accepted confines, Tears for Fears are stretching and growing, expanding both their imagination and their horizons". Ian Cranna of Smash Hits described the album as "looser, more exploratory" than the band's previous work and praised its "unflinching lyrical honesty". Rolling Stone reviewer Don Shewey found Tears for Fears reminiscent of various other acts, noting traces of "U2's social conscience, the Bunnymen's echoing guitars and XTC's contorted pop wit" in the album's music, but commented that Chris Hughes' "sparkling" production "nudges Songs from the Big Chair slightly ahead of the pack".
In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stanton Swihart wrote that Songs from the Big Chair "heralded a dramatic maturation in the band's music, away from the synth-pop brand with which it was (unjustly) seared following the debut, and towards a complex, enveloping pop sophistication", deeming it "one of the finest statements of the decade." Mark Elliott of Record Collector said that the album found Tears for Fears "making it big, coating their consistently interesting material in a high-gloss commercial sheen that captured the mid-80s zeitgeist perfectly", while Q highlighted its "sound of spotlit, spacious sophistication plus anthemic choruses you'd bet your house on." Writing for Stylus Magazine in 2006, Andrew Unterberger concluded that "even today, when all rock musicians seem to be able to do is be emotional and honest, the brutality and power of Songs from the Big Chair's catharsis is still quite shocking". Songs from the Big Chair was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Slant Magazine ranked the record at number 95 on its list of the best albums of the 1980s.
In fairness, even the weakest numbers are blessed with a sparkling, full-bodied production aesthetic that equals, or surpasses, that of most of what the average listener hears on inspirational radio. And Velasquez's undeniable talent elevates the album, as a whole, to such a point that even those who have come to dismiss Christian pop as nothing more than a pale shadow of its mainstream counterpart will be forced to admit that the powerhouse vocalist is more than able to hold her own with virtually any singer in either camp. For those unfamiliar with Velasquez's career arc to date, the On My Knees anthology, even with its proliferation of weaker material, is as good a starting point as any from which to begin their investigation. For everyone else, though, her triumphant first two records remain, far and away, the most cohesive and convincing installments in her catalog to date.
While her first three albums are represented here with around three to five songs each, her latest albums, Unspoken and Beauty Has Grace are distastefully shunned, with only one included from each record. Where are Unspoken's biggest hits like "You're My God" and "Jesus Is" or Beauty Has Grace's hits "Tonight" and "With All My Soul?" That's probably one of the worst aspects of the album: an extreme lack of hits. Where are songs like "Flower In the Rain" or "Glory" or "Crystal Clear?"
While On My Knees definitely shows off some of Jaci's biggest hits and fan favorites, it also fails to include some of her best known songs. This project should have been, hands down, a two-disc collection. However, I guess you can't please everyone. 2b1af7f3a8