'Laughing Stock' appears more and more likely to be the last proper album by the Essex boys. Released originally on jazz label, Verve in 1991, it was as far removed from Talk Talk's earlier, pretty boy pop incarnation as The Spice Girls are from Jimi Hendrix. Just like the preceding album, 1988's 'Spirit Of Eden', there are six long compositions of equal parts loud and minimalist guitar textures with piano and jazz accompaniment. Stand-outs are the blues-inflected 'Ascension Day', the crazed, mournful madness on 'After The Flood' (featuring what sounds like a wasp on vocals, honestly!) and the closest the album gets to a mainstream melody on the elegant 'New Grass'. It's an uneasy ride but ultimately rewarding for the patient listener.