I was finally prompted to buy ‘Laughing Stock’ by Talk Talk after I read an interview with Guy Garvey (in The Observer I think) where he named it as one of his favourite albums. I found it for less than £5, so downloaded it.
My first impressions: I could sort of hear which bits Elbow had used, and Mark Hollis really can’t be understood because of the singing/mumbling he does. It works very well, but if you asked me what any of the songs were about, I couldn’t tell you. The titles don’t help much, to be honest. To be fair, I don’t think they’re important; he’s doing the old ‘voice as just another instrument’ trick. (Listen to John Martyn’s ‘Fine Line’ for a really good example of this).
The sound of the album is fantastic, ebbing and flowing waves of sound (dare I say sonic cathederals of sound? hell, yes) and the rhythms are jazzy and the structures are loose and it almost feels like the album was dreamed rather than actually played.
(It’s a prime example of a band making possibly their best work just after being dumped by their label. See also: ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ by Wilco.)