It’s not that the reconvened Roxy Music is bad, it’s just that they sound so generic and tired in comparison to the glorious cracked art-school rejects they were just a few short years prior. While Country Life and Siren were clearly pointing the direction towards a more coherent pop sound they still managed to retain the Roxy Music personality. Manifesto was the first chink in the armor, and Flesh + Blood is probably their most lifeless album as they strike poses like they’re a Chic cover band throughout.
That doesn’t make Flesh + Blood a bad album, it merely means that any contemporary artist could have recorded these songs and the results would have been much the same. Their progeny like Duran Duran could have easily produced “Same Old Scene.” There’s a distinct lack of artistic imagination at play here. Radio-friendly disco-rock is not a bad thing, look at clear standout and well-known single “Over You” when it’s done right, but Flesh + Blood is a by and large anemic affair; too glossy a production smothers the band, a bored vocal here and noncommittal guitar solo there. It’s a little hard to imagine that this is the same group that blessed us with songs like “Both Ends Burning” and “Out of the Blue.”
Their next album and swan song, Avalon, would find the perfect balance of this new direction, sending the band out to pasture on a high creative and career achievement. While that album sounds decadent and luxurious, Flesh + Blood sounds sleepy and tired. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where and what went wrong in the studio, but you can hear it. For all of the mighty swagger of “Oh Yeah” and their interesting reworking of “In the Midnight Hour” there’s the inertness of “No Strange Delight” and “Eight Miles High.” Maybe they just needed to get this one out of their system in order to get to the beautiful Avalon.
DOWNLOAD: “Over You”