For most bands, growing and maturing and changing into different styles after commercial sucess most often isn't good in many different ways. But for Talk Talk, maturing from new-wave and synth pop that made them famous into a more ambient, richer style of music made them one of the starting points for the genre now known as post-rock.
Talk Talk began in 1981. They later signed to EMI and recorded 3 albums, including their breakthrough album, It's My Life (No Doubt did a cover of the title track), and their best selling album of their career, The Colour of Spring. In 1987, they were given a very large budget from EMI for their next album, but 14 months later, overbudget and way past deadline, EMI was greeted with shocking news. Talk Talk informed EMI that there were to be no singles from this album and that they couldnt recreate the arrangements or the sound they had captured on stage, so they couldn't tour for the album either. The Spirit of Eden was released to huge critical acclaim and very low album sales, having no pop-sensibilities and latching on to long arrangements creating an intricate piece of work that was closer to jazz than anything else. EMI then released a single off of the album without the band's consent, and tried to drop them from their roster. Talk Talk sued them and won, leaving to sign with Polydor to make their next album. With tensions high after everything else had happened, Paul Webb decided to quit, leaving the broken band to record with mostly guest musicians. In 1991, Laughing Stock came out. This became their last masterpiece; the band broke up in 1992.
The thing about Laughing Stock that gets me is how unremarkably beautiful it is. It is impossible for me to believe that actual people recorded this in a studio. This simple but yet so complex album leaves you hypnotized with amazement, full of earthy sounds and atmospheric textures. Mark Hollis' voice is so beautiful and powerful, but pretty and fragile. The six songs vary from mournful to uplifting, but seem to flow together perfectly, without any real break between one and the next, as does everything else on the album. Hollis sings the exact notes at the right time, perfectly. The percussion fits everything perfectly, all the time. The guitar always molds another layer of sound and dimension, perfectly. The organ and other instruments blend in, deepening the sound and heightening the emotion, perfectly. This album is at its complete best. The actual vibe around this album isn't like anything I have ever experienced. Laughing Stock is spacious, jazzy, melancholy, evocative, intense, staggering, delicate, immense, and very beautiful, all at the same time.
With all of this said, it is no wonder that they have led so many great and beautiful bands to try and replicate the initial sound of Laughing Stock. This album is a must for anyone who likes post-rock. It amazes me that a masterpiece such as this one had been ignored upon release, and still will never get the credit it deserves.
[quote=review]It is impossible for me to believe that actual people recorded this in a studio.[/quote]
Very, very true. This album is without a doubt a classic, and not just because of its influence. I'm starting to get into Talk Talks earlier stuff and I'm actually enjoying it a lot more then I thought I would.
This album is incredible. I'm really enjoying this, this is magnificent. All the tracks are brilliant, except maybe the first one, but I think that will grow on me. This reminds me of a more accessible/listenable Bodysong.