Avalon, released in 1982, 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.
Avalon was positively received by fans and critics, who considered it a major step up from Manifesto and Flesh + Blood and an indication of the band having regained their artistic footing; in retrospect, it is widely considered Roxy Music's greatest album among critics, though fans tend to place For Your Pleasure above it. Among other accolades, Avalon was ranked at No. 307 on Rolling Stone's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time (later being dropped from the 2012 revision, but added back into the 2020 revision at No. 336), No. 45 on Slant magazine's list of the greatest albums of the 1980's, and No. 514 on Acclaimed Music's list of the all time top 3000 albums. Like its predecessors, Avalon was also 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. Given the band's dissolution the year after its release, the critical and commercial success of Avalon made it quite the high note for the band to close out on.
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.
- Contemptible Cover: Notably, this is the only album in Roxy Music's studio discography that averts this trope, simply being a shot of Bryan Ferry's then-girlfriend Lucy Birley (then Lucy Helmore) overlooking the lake just outside Crumlin Lodge in Ireland, dressed in a medieval helmet and with a falcon perched on her right hand.
- Cover Version: "More Than This" famously received one courtesy of the Mary Ramsey-fronted 10,000 Maniacs in 1997, surpassing the original in popularity. Incidentally, it's generally considered the only notable work by the band following the 1993 departure of former frontwoman Natalie Merchant.
- 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).
- 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.