Monday, February 18, 2008

No. 371: Siren


Band: Roxy Music
Album: Siren
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Containing the band's biggest single, "Siren" is probably Roxy Music's only album with real pop tendencies. Instead of the soundscapes and experiments, Bryan Ferry and Co. used hooks and disco-type beats to build their songs, with pretty intriguing results.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Save for a few tracks, the songs aren't hugely distinctive.
Best song: Both "Both Ends Burning" and "Love is the Drug" are great songs.
Worst song: The vocals on "Sentimental Fool" are annoying.
Is it awesome?: Not really, but it's not bad.

Bryan Ferry is nothing if not innovative. He's the type of dude that is willing to take risks and mess around with style often. I respect that. A lot of artists are more likely to work with a particular formula until we're all too tired of it to complain (I'm thinking AC/DC here). No one would ever accuse Ferry of doing that.

That's not to say that Ferry switched and changes styles so much that you don't recognize his stuff. Roxy Music records remains Roxy Music records and Ferry's style is pretty distinctive. Save for the Devo-funk of "Love is the Drug," the songs are "Siren" are easily identifiable as those of Roxy Music.

With all that said, I don't think Ferry pulls off the pop accents well. "Whirlwind's" guitar is a little off and "Could it Happen to Me" is a little too Meat Loaf-ish for me to enjoy it. I never connected well with "Nightingale," probably due to the overdone guitar and woodwind pieces within the song.

Still, the album has its moments. "She Sells" has the odd piano of showtunes, though Ferry seems to walk that line pretty well. The off-filter dance of "Love is the Drug" is hypnotic and Ferry's lyrics are just prescient enough for the me-first, cocaine-fueld 1970s. "Both Ends Burning" is also funked up and danceable, with background dancers playing off Ferry's bizarre croon.

"Siren" is Roxy Music's most pop-oriented record and there's a lot to like about that. It's not great, but it's definitely listenable.

2 comments:

padraig said...

yeah, the first two Roxy Music albums when they had Brian Eno are unsurprisingly the best though the later stuff isn't terrible.

a quick word about artists who only work in one format - I understand the criticism and I'm all for people experimenting and mashing genres, as that's how music advances, but there's also something to be said for artists who just do one or two things really, really well. take bob marley & the wailers, for example (and most classic roots reggae in general). or the best of shoegaze, or a ton of East Coast hip hop records circa '93-'97 or so. you get the point.

kellydwyer said...

I really got into "She Sells" last summer. Funky, little song.