As lovers of music we sometimes go through certain phases in which we only want to listen to a certain kind of song that fits our mood, and calls to us. This past summer, I went through a Talk Talk phase in which I listened to Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock on a shuffle loop for what felt like a good, relaxing, month. I didn’t need anything else to sooth my spirit. Later, I had heard some of their earlier work, but I never felt compelled to get a hold of the early 80’s albums like The Party’s Over, or It’s My Life based on what I’d heard.
Natural Order 1982-1991 could be thought of as the long lost brother to an earlier compilation album entitled Natural History, which was compiled without the band’s consent, and left a sour taste in the mouth of lead songwriter Mark Hollis. Hollis was however, on board with this new release, and oversaw the track choices, none of which are hits, yet each one has something great to offer.
Having never heard any of Talk Talk’s early 80’s music, I felt slightly shaken when the first two tracks, ‘Have You Heard The News’ and ‘Renee’ came on. It was like my perceptions of this band had been dipped in a vat of liquid-80’s-pop-music, even still, the work stood out from any other radio song associated with the era. The music had a sense integrity that sought not to please an audience, but to make interesting, innovative and enjoyable music. At points, especially while listening to ‘For What It’s Worth’, I could hear the music fitting a scene in some blurry romantic drama starring Patrick Swayze or Richard Gere, and unfortunately, that’s the best way I can describe to you that aesthetic: a hollow sound sustained by cheesy synth sounds and midi piano.
It was only until ‘Wealth’ came on that I felt like I was in familiar, more comfortable territory, a place where songs can be as long as they want (or so I had hoped), where all you need is a fretless bass, a couple of keyboards, a guitar every now and then, and that unique timbre of Mark Hollis’ voice that seems to be stretching itself out, up to the heavens. It was here in the latter half of the album that I was met with a slight disappointment in the editing of certain songs like ‘Eden’ and ‘After The Flood’, as they were trimmed down in length.
It was really cool for me, as a fan of their later work, to hear this album, as I’m sure it would be for anyone who is only acquainted with the early work. In all, Natural Order is an intimate view of the band’s evolution, and chronological development of style over the course of a decade. It’s a good way to introduce yourself to the world of Talk Talk…9.5/10
*Previously Published on http://www.violentsuccess.com*