Roxy Music under the Bryan Ferry regime made romantic and/or doomed-romantic music for young adults and for hipper teenagers who imagined themselves in the dramatic clutches of complicated adult romantic entanglements. Young women especially were under the sway of the hearts-a-flutter vocals of the suave and debonair Ferry; too damned good looking and smooth for a punk-era art-rocker, he gave the smarter women an excuse to swoon. "Avalon" is the title track to one of the band's best all-around pop albums, the 1982 LP that proved to be Roxy Music's swan song. "Avalon" was yet another among the band's myriad songs with indelible melodies.
Over a musical arrangement and a Bob Clearmountain mix that is completely without edge -- a vaguely Latin sway, a little reggae perhaps, and a smooth wall of sound that features Andy MacKay's saxophone and Phil Manzanera's staccato guitar lines alternately peeking out -- Ferry sings like an old-time romantic crooner, his voice somewhere along the lines of classic ballad singers, tenors like Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots and Tony Williams of the Platters. He sounds unlike any other singer from his own era, with perhaps only his influence David Bowie in the same ballpark. He is supported by the cooing background vocals of Yanick Etienne. The effect is an ethereal soundscape that was likely quite influential on many of the earlier records on the British 4AD label, like This Mortal Coil.
Across the proverbial crowded room, Ferry's narrator spots the object of his affection. He suspects she is capable of transporting him to the mythical earthly paradise of the title: "Now the party´s over/I´m so tired/Then I see you coming/Out of nowhere/Much communication in a motion/Without conversation or a notion/Avalon." Certainly his lyrics are conscious of the very adult, intimate moment pictured in Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight." "Avalon" involves a similarly weary moment, one of vulnerability when one's defenses have been worn down. It is an unguarded and unexpected moment, after a party, when one has perhaps given up thoughts of finding romance. It is quite a rich little lyric in a scant three verses. The haunting melody and romantic lyric helped propel the album to gold status, the biggest success Roxy Music had in America.