“Stronger Through the Years” contains a line that epitomizes the mood of Manifesto: “No more feelings/No more tears/The river's wide enough/Flowing stronger through the years.” It’s a perfect line for Roxy Music, which grew more sinister as it got sleeker. Manifesto exhibits an impressive amount of subtlety and restraint, especially for a band once infamous for its bombast. “Ain’t That So,” “My Little Girl," and “Spin Me Round” are so shrouded and cunning that you might assume the band members had been listening intensively to J.J. Cale and Steely Dan—which they probably were. Of course they were also exploring disco: not just the musical form but the culture. On the surface, “Dance Away” has the sweet innocence of an old Buddy Holly song, but underneath is one of Bryan Ferry’s key lines about the emptiness and desperation hidden within decadence. “Trash” shows that Roxy also kept an ear to the rising sounds of new wave (Elvis Costello in particular). But the piece de résistance is the title song. Echoing the momentousness of Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom,” it marries declarative poetry to music that's at once triumphant and deeply pensive.

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