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Talk Talk - Laughing Stock CD (album) cover


Talk Talk


Crossover Prog

3.96 | 288 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Laughing Stock and Spirit of Eden very much complement each other both musically and lyrically. Even the similar cover art highlights the commonality...together like sunrise and sunset. Sadly, this album marked the sunset for TALK TALK, a band that grew from mundane pop origins into mesmerising, minimalist, and deeply spiritual pondering that proved a nightmare for the creativity-stifling music industry. Perhaps--and this is simply my interpretation--the title of the album reflects a resigned understanding on the part of the band of what was likely to be...and at the same time, maybe even a sense of eagerness to meet their fate, not in suicidal terms , but in an eagerness to embrace their eccentricity. Perhaps there is even pride in being the "laughing stock" of the insipid popular critics.

They do indeed have much to be proud of. Like its companion, Spirit of Eden, this album could very easily have been produced just yesterday instead of over a decade ago. Though the comparison may seem strange at first, I am reminded of a more minimalist version of Sigur Ros (perhaps TALK TALK influenced them?). Pieces like the rather atonal, meandering "Myrrhman", and "Runeii's" game of silences are perhaps the most experimental of the lot, although even the more "normal"-seeming "Ascension Day" shows signs of it as well. On Laughing Stock, I nominate "Ascension Day" (despite its abrupt cutoff--glitch or intentional?) and "New Grass" as the two best tracks.

Laughing Stock is perhaps a bit more upbeat than Spirit of Eden, which seems to have portrayed a man so downtrodden that he yearns to make a new start. Laughing Stock lyrically seems like the faint beginnings of that new morning, although that desperation is still there ("New Grass" in particular helps create this impression). In order to decipher the lyrics, it's necessary to both read MARK HOLLIS' nearly illegible handwriting and his equally cryptic, faint and melodic singing--but once done, a very interesting picture emerges. HOLLIS' lyrics are replete with a deep, instinctive spirituality...not the dogmatic, pop kind of "Christianity", but something very natural and flowing--he seems to write these things not to proselytize, but simply because it is an integral part of his being. As such, it's a delight to listen to. Yes, he can discern some of the problems, but rather than launch on a bitter diatribe, he instead expresses a gentle longing for things to be put right. "Heaven waits--someday Christendom may come Westward"...perhaps a suggestion that what did come westward from the Holy Land very often did not truly reflect what Jesus stood for. But, even with this he does not condemn--he hopes, and this is what makes his more spiritual ruminations so listenable and so touching.

Overall, this is an album NOT to be missed...I am deeply glad that Polydor saved this gem from fading away to a distant memory. As it is, it's too little known.

FloydWright | 5/5 |


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