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Breaking Hearts is the second record following the full-scale reunion of Elton John And Bernie Taupin, and it is a more than satisfactory listening experience. With a sound quite different from its predecessor, Too Low For Zero, Breaking Hearts is heavier on upbeat numbers and straight-up rockers, and it doesn't have the light, almost airy feel of its predecessor. Too Low For Zero sounds almost as though it was recorded in a cloudbank; Breaking Hearts is firmly grounded upon the Earth. It comes right out of the gate with a state-of the world rocker called 'Restless,' a good example of Bernie Taupin's sharp yet somehow blase social commentary; it goes on with 'Slow Down Georgie (She's Poison)' a mid-tempo rocker about a friend who's in the grip of a man-eater (and we're not talkin' 'bout lions or tigers here). Both songs stand up well as mid-'80s pop, and they manage not to sound too dated, unlike most musical fare from 1984. 'Who Wears These Shoes?,' another mid-tempo number, this one on the reliable old topic of infidelity (Bernie has written quite a few songs on that subject over the years; makes you wonder, doesn't it?), comes next, sharing the quality of almost obscene catchiness that permeates most of this record. Whatever else one might say about it, Breaking Hearts has great hooks.
The title track follows; it's a slower, more piano-oriented song, a lament of the fact that it gets harder to love 'em and leave 'em as one gets older. Bernie Taupin certainly deserves some kind of credit for making the troubles of an utter cad sound so sympathetic. Next up we have the driving rocker 'Lil 'Frigerator,' about a cold, calculating but irresistable piece of jailbait, along the lines of Too Low For Zero's 'Whipping Boy,' but with a better hook and heavier sound. This brings what we old folks used to call 'side one' to and end.
But those days are past, no? There are no more sides; now there are only whole records and songs. Either way, the album continues with 'Passenger,' a song that Americans generally just wouldn't understand- or should I say, wouldn't have understood before airline security got beefed up to the point where waiting in long lines has become more a part of our lifestyle. It's actually a whimsical, mid-tempo tune about standing in line for the trains that make travelling around Europe so much easier than getting around this self-centred, car-obsessed country, a song that illustrates the monotony of the situation without becoming overly monotonous itself. 'In Neon' follows, a nice ballad about dreams of Hollywood success. The energy picks up again on 'Burning Buildings,' a song that represents taking the love-plunge as akin to leaping from a flaming skyscraper. A bit on the melodramatic side, but a good song nonetheless. 'Did He Shoot Her?' is the follow-up, an excellent piece of fast-paced, rhythmic rock that tells a story of getting revenge on some creep who's hurt a beloved ex. The last track here is the best-known, 'Sad Songs (Say So Much)' Like the rest of the record, it is incongruously upbeat; perhaps this is all meant ironically (either that, or it's an excuse for the over-long and kinda depressing 'Blue Moves' 8 years earlier); heaven knows Taupin loves his irony. So, to conclude, Breaking Hearts is a mid-eighties Elton John record that doesn't deserve to be consigned to the television time capsule that contains most of 1984; it is a well-crafted, consistently engaging record with enough hooks to provide spare hands for a whole fleet of pirates. It boggles my mind that the year in which it was made is now twenty-two years in the past! To put it in perspecitve: if Breaking hearts were a person, it would be graduating from college this year! And I'm sure that, if it were, it would've graduated with flying colours.