Avalon, released in 1982 through EG Records in conjunction with Polydor Records in the UK and Warner (Bros.) Records in the US, is the eighth and final album by British Glam Rock band Roxy Music. Released two years after the commercially successful but controversially-received Flesh + Blood, the album acts as a refinement of the pop rock sound that permeated both both its immediate predecessor and 1979's Manifesto, featuring more carefully constructed song structures and incorporating considerable influences from frontman Bryan Ferry's love of jazz and traditional pop. The end result is, in hindsight, considered the Trope Maker for Sophisti-Pop, a subgenre of pop music that Ferry would aid in further refining through his post-Roxy Music solo output. Compared to previous albums, Avalon is a considerably quieter record, with a noticeably somber tone reflecting the band's own awareness of their fading star in the British popular music landscape. Tellingly, Ferry decided to dissolve Roxy Music once touring for Avalon finished in 1983.
Like its predecessors, Avalon was a major commercial success, topping the charts in Britain, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. The album was additionally certified gold in France, Germany, and Spain, and platinum in Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. Speaking of the United States, it was not an immediate success there, but gradually ascended to Sleeper Hit status (it went platinum after all), contributing to the cult popularity of Roxy Music west of the Atlantic. It's still the only Roxy Music album to receive any kind of sales certification in that country.
Avalon spawned three singles: "More than This", the Title Track, and "Take a Chance with Me". The latter was the band's final hit single in the UK, peaking at No. 26 on the UK Singles chart.
- "More Than This" (4:30)
- "The Space Between" (4:30)
- "Avalon" (4:16)
- "India" (1:44)
- "While My Heart Is Still Beating" (3:26)
- "The Main Thing" (3:54)
- "Take a Chance with Me" (4:42)
- "To Turn You On" (4:16)
- "True to Life" (4:25)
- "Tara" (1:43)
"I could feel at the time there was no way of troping":
- Bittersweet Ending: The last lyrical track on the album, "True to Life", describes the narrator moving on from a failed relationship, still feeling melancholic but no longer obsessing over the breakup; this is then followed up by "Tara", a Miniscule Rocking instrumental that serves as an emotional release of this calm moodiness. Given that this was Roxy Music's last album, these two songs act as an example of this trope not just for Avalon, but for the band as a whole.
- Break-Up Song: The album almost entirely consists of these.
- Cerebus Syndrome: While not outright grim, the album is a noticeably more melancholic take on the jazzy pop rock of Manifesto and Flesh + Blood; many of the songs on the album have a distinctly longing, uncertain tone to them and explore recurring themes of failed/failing relationships.
- Concept Album: While not overtly one, the album repeatedly explores the idea of failed love, with every song (barring the instrumental "India" and "Tara") covering a romantic relationship that is either rapidly collapsing or has already collapsed.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The cover continues the trend of lavish album art covers. It was designed by longtime Joy Division/New Order designer Peter Saville, who usually tends toward Minimalistic Cover Art.
- Grand Finale: The final album by Roxy Music, with a fitting sense of finality encompassing it.
- Guest Star: Haitian singer Yanick Étienne performs backing vocals on the Title Track.
- Instrumental: "India" and "Tara".
- Intercourse with You: As to be expected from Roxy Music; "To Turn You On" is probably the most blatant example, if only by virtue of its incredibly on-the-nose title.
- Miniscule Rocking: The album's two instrumentals, "India" and "Tara", are both around a quarter-minute under the two-minute mark.
- New Sound Album: Avalon further polishes the slick pop rock sound of Manifesto and Flesh + Blood into a direction more overtly influenced by both jazz and traditional pop.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The distinct melancholy of the music and lyrics and recurring themes of collapsing relationships seem to be reflections of Brian Ferry's own awareness that Roxy Music likely wouldn't be able to continue after this album (and indeed he chose to dissolve the band and focus on his solo career after the associated tour).
- Running Gagged: In keeping with the album's melancholic tone and its apparent prescience that the band's time under the sun had come to an end, this album marks the end of Roxy Music's recurring element of having an attractive and/or scantily-clad woman on the cover,note with Avalon instead featuring a cover image based on Arthurian Legend.note
- The album cover and title are both inspired by Arthurian Legend, specifically his final journey through the land of Avalon.
- The single cover for "More Than This" appropriates the 1872 painting Veronica Veronese by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
- Sophisti-Pop: This album is regarded by analysts as the Trope Maker of the genre, blending elements of Glam Rock, jazz, and traditional pop.
- Title Track: "Avalon", natch.
- Tuckerization: Inverted with "Tara": the song features the same name as Ferry's son... who was born shortly after Avalon released and was likely named after the song.note