I have approached Roxy Music in a strange way – listened to their second album first, got really into it, and then listened to their last album and didn’t enjoy it. And I’ve jumped around ever since. And because of the way I feel about their earliest and later albums, I’ve approached the ones in the middle with a bit of trepidation. That trepidation comes from how much I enjoy the first two records, with Eno, which are considerably less restrained than their later “sophisticated” music.
But I was pleasantly surprised by their first post-Eno album, Stranded, and I must say that’s true of this one too. The things I like about early Roxy Music are still mostly here – especially on the first track – and the things I don’t like about later Roxy Music are mostly not here.
Ferry’s songs are mostly weird enough for me. (Or maybe the arrangements are.) Yes, he’s definitely starting to write more accessible and catchy songs, but there’s still enough in them to keep me interested. And his lyrics are literate enough and interesting enough to to make the songs seem more sophisticated. (It’s amazing what decent lyrics do to an otherwise straightforward song.)
But, as is usual with this band, the thing that really matters is the arrangements, and they are still strange enough for me though, as with Stranded there is plenty of evidence that they are getting more conventional. Manzanera is still playing strange stuff that sometimes sounds like it belongs in another song, Jobson adds just a titch of artiness with his contributions (as does Mackay) and there’s the odd unexpected break (like that one on the otherwise pretty dated “Out of the Blue”).
Basically they still resemble the Roxy Music I love more often than not, allowing me to enjoy the record even when I notice Ferry’s songs reaching for a more commercial sound and vibe.