The album possesses a noticeably louder and more abrasive tone than those of their previous releases; the result of frontman Danny Elfman's desire to increase the diversity of the songs. He later declared Nothing To Fear to be "far more 'Boingo'" than the band's debut album. The songs feature an unorthodox range in instruments, such as electric bells, xylophones and synthesisers, some of which were designed and built by the band.
Initial vinyl pressings of the album contain a lesser known mix of the song "Private Life", featuring more prominent bass guitar and xylophone. The single version, which was subsequently used on all re-releases of the album, is also shorter by approximately 27 seconds, since it shortens the transition into the chorus among other alterations. The song's release was accompanied with a music video, directed by Danny Elfman's brother Richard Elfman (who was also a founding member of the group).
The album was received with high regional sales and airplay, selling 125,000 copies in its original run, despite continuous condemnation from critics. Elfman often used this negativity to the band's advantage through publicity, stating: "The music [the critics] like is inspirationless and contrived. If we start getting praise from this clique of six or eight reviewers, we'd probably have to evaluate where we went astray."
The band went on a successful tour following their new release, even opening for bands such as The Police and Fear on occasion. The song "Wild Sex (In the Working Class)" was later featured in the John Hughes film Sixteen Candles.