I started by buying the first disc of 69 on a whim, so length was never an issue for me. I do think it's their most accessible album. It's more consistent and open in its pop sensibilities than much of their earlier stuff, without being as violently cute as what would follow; the production, while not quite as lush as that of Realism or as magical as Trees, is exceptionally clean.
I'm working now on a ~45 minute mix that touches on everything, from the Anway era to present. Hopefully it will serve as both a digestible and comprehensive intro to the band. I'll put it on Grooveshark and post the link here when I'm satisfied.
No. They've not toured the UK in a few years. :(
It's an awesome experience. Very intimate in a very un-rock way, to put a twist on the "chamber pop" label. Stephin was in good spirits when I saw them, cracking plenty of jokes about dead cats, although I'm sure your mileage will vary — Claudia is the real frontman, anyway. Worth it just to hear all these great synth- and feedback-heavy songs (in the case of Distortion) performed with strings.BTW I saw the link to your Last.fm and req'd you, if you're wondering who that is.