Remember Talk Talk? They were an 80's synth-pop band, initially posed as an "angst-y" version of Duran Duran by EMI records. They had a string of popular albums in the 80's, with hits like "Talk Talk", "It's A Shame", "Life's What You Make It", and "It's My Life". Because of their early successes, they were increasingly allowed to chart their own course - which they did in a way that nobody expected. Eventually, they would ditch the synth-pop trappings, and explore the world of orchestral ambient jazz. This experimentation culminated in 1988's Spirit Of Eden - after which, they parted ways with an increasingly frustrated EMI.
This is where Laughing Stock comes in. This is their final album as a band, recorded for Polydor in 1991. It continues the radical rethink introduced on Spirit Of Eden and, to some critics, represents the pinnacle of their work. Technically, it's a rock album, but it also sits at the intersection of ambient music and jazz.
You can listen to it here:
Laughing Stock by Talk Talk (Xbox Music)
This is not an "immediate" record. I know it's a lot to ask, but you may need to set a aside a little time to listen to it, before making a final judgment. I found that headphones can help a lot during the initial listens. Also - you may want to concentrate on the 2nd and 3rd tracks - Ascension Day & After The Flood - as a starting point. They're sequenced to fit together, and they're how I'd introduce the album to someone.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
P.S. In case you don't know, you don't need a subscription to listen to Xbox Music - just a Microsoft LiveID. I think you get 10 free hours of music a month.