Bryan Ferry: Olympia (Astralwerks)

From its first track, it's clear that with his latest disc, Bryan Ferry is intent on re-creating the intoxicating sound and love-hangover mood of Avalon, the last studio album by Roxy Music. The percolating synthesizer groove that courses through "You Can Dance" is a pumped-up version of the motif that kicks off "True to Life" from that 28-year-old recording. Play the cuts back to back, and the resemblance is uncanny.

When you hear Ferry swooning in his bedroom whisper about seeking company in a discotheque at dawn, you know he hasn't given up his fascination with the eternal dance that is a metaphor for the hunt for companionship. Rippling guitars and a midtempo dance beat raise the hypnotic sway of "You Can Dance" to a level that matches the best Roxy Music material. And Ferry's lyrics—touching on references to the mambo, the river Seine, Campari and soda, "jungle fever" and "singing in the rain"—might seem like cliché overload if they weren't concocted for optimal postmodern impact.

"You Can Dance" feels like Ferry's latest masterpiece. That can't be said of the underwhelming and overproduced cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren," even though it boasts a virtual Roxy Music, with Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay and Brian Eno.

Other standout tracks find Ferry continuing his pursuit of the parallel prizes of sex and romance. "Heartache by Numbers," "No Face, No Name, No Number" and a bonus-track version of John Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" prove Ferry's quest for love to be more existential than physical.


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