It’s hard to find fault in its sweetness, but harder still to find actual tunes (excepting its two lead singles) in its subtlety. In other words, this is a good but overrated album that gets a lot of praise because a) Roxy Music hasn’t done anything of note since 1974’s Country Life and b) it’s the rare story of a band who started early the previous decade and managed to make a good album in a completely different genre then the one that they were used to (I doubt a list of such artists could get to 10, but prove me wrong). The production is really the best thing about this album – it sounds luscious, with just the right amount of reverb filling in the space (“The Space Between,” indeed). But Roxy Music, never the most melodic band in the world, barely manage any melodies (again, outside of its two lead singles), and its individual players sound like they’ve been enslaved by Bryan Ferry to do his bidding (ie. Phil Manzanera’s slow creep of an intro on “Take A Chance With Me” – co-writtten by Manzanera – sounds like it belongs on a completely different song). If you’ve only heard Avalon, you wouldn’t know you were in the presence of one of the greatest guitarists and saxophonists in the history of rock music.
The good stuff: the guitar riff and Ferry’s falsetto on “More Than This,” the album’s best song and easily one of the band’s ten greatest songs; Manzanera’s light plucking and the female backing vocals of “Avalon,” the album’s second best song and great for a walk home after a party – sad at the loveless night but optimistic for the next; the danceability of “The Space Between”; Bryan Ferry’s feyness in “The Main Thing” (“You can lead me even higher”) and the one note synth riff in the same song that’s later joined in by wordless vocals; the synth and the guitar playing call and response between Ferry’s melodyless singing during the chorus of “Take A Chance With Me” (first starting at the 2:06 mark); how the title of Andy Mackay’s closer recalls the closer of For Your Pleasure almost a decade earlier but when that song fades out of view, it fades out of memory too – much like most of the other songs I haven’t mentioned. Like all Roxy Music covers before it, it’s actually the shot of a woman on the cover upon close inspection, though I first fancied it was two birds perched on a mountain overlooking the ocean – an avian avalon, if you will. Oh, well.