Thursday, January 3, 2008

No. 307: Avalon

Band: Roxy Music
Album: Avalon
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Roxy Music's final album brought more synths, more brooding and more subtlety than previous records. Bryan Ferry's voice soars over a very background-y rest of the record.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Maybe I just don't get Roxy Music, but the post-Eno work is too slow for my taste.
Best song: The title track is pretty good.
Worst song: I don't care for "To Turn You On."
Is it awesome?: Not really.

Apropos of nothing, but the people at our college radio station who liked Roxy Music also were the people who really liked My Bloody Valentine. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out the connection between the two bands, if there is any.


I'm not a Roxy Music aficionado. I like some of the band's earlier songs ("Love is the Drug" being the big one), but I owned all of zero of their records before this project. I've never been a big fan of dance music, so I'm not qualified to give a long dissertation on Roxy Music.

With that said, I do prefer the band's earlier work. Bryan Ferry's studio work is almost overwhelming in its grandeur; he appears to fall in love with needle-tweaking as the band progressed. I suspect this is why Eno left, as Eno is notoriously meticulous, as well.

Still, with "Avalon," Gone are the danceable disco strains of the band's previous albums and in its place are the somber, melancholy tones of Ferry's mumbling, dated synth work and slower beats. It's not impressive to my ears.


Justin said...

Meh, Roxy was a great band for about four years in the early 70's. This isn't a bad attempt, but it doesn't compare to anything they did in their formative years. People say this is lush and romantic. I say listen to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless for that. They are lush and romantic while still paying homage to VU and Eno. That is a beautiful album.

This is just Ferry crooning over synth-pop for his fans who have become the establishment. A key moment of a band selling out to yuppie scum. Who knows, they may have always been sellouts without Eno. His influences lingered, even if he wasn't around, through 1975's Siren. By Avalon, Ferry was pretentious and shallow and the group was done (actually, members and the group had been disbanding and reforming for their entire history). Leave it to pop fans to make Avalon a platinum album.

Plus, the bastards didn't even give us a hot oiled-up chick on the cover for this one.

Justin said...

I meant to mention this in my comment. Eno left because Ferry didn't want to record any of his songs.

Go figure.

R.J. said...

There is, however, a woman with a bird on the cover. That's mildly cool.

kellydwyer said...

Gorgeous and mature album. I'm not going to call it "pretentious" or "selling out" (this is the sound of commercial music? come on) just because the band didn't have any songs on the album that included chants based around Ferry's license plate number.

People don't like it when bands grow up, and mellow out. The overwhelming majority of rock fans consistently demand that bands stay in a state of arrested development, and churn out the same stuff they were making at age 22. Usually the Ramones are brought up.

And then nobody brings up the fact that the Ramones made, like, two interesting albums.

R.J. said...

I don't disagree that the Ramones didn't make any interesting music; I'd suggest they only made one interesting album. Overall, people tend to like the first thing that got them into a band and any evolution is looked down upon. Seldom does a band evolve and escape charges of selling out.

I think my issue with "Avalon" is that it is nearly devoid of hooks. I've listened to it several times and still can't really pick out or hum any of the songs.

Roxy Music -- as we'll see even when I write up "Siren" and "Country Life" -- isn't totally for me. I can see the draw in their music, but the almost-disco that they did early and the synth soundscapes they did late just don't float my boat.

kellydwyer said...

The actual opinion I've no issue with, you either like the music or you don't. That's not what bugs me.

It's the reason to NOT like music that others (not you, RJ) keep driving me nuts with. This is the sound of a bunch of 37-year old men making an album. They are what they are.

Justin said...

Basically, I like their older stuff and don't like this latter stuff.

I don't know how else to articulate it than to say that Eno's influence (and RG's mention of hooks as well) is the reason I like the early stuff by the band, and Ferry was never really the reason I was a fan of the band.

Avalon is basically a pure Ferry album. I'm not a fan of Ferry (which doesn't mean I don't like some of what he's done, case in point, early Roxy). I think he is pretentious and shallow, but I've always thought that.

I'll just say that this (obviously) isn't my cup of tea and agree to disagree.