Console/Image Entertainment

The break-up of Avion frontman Steve Bertrand’s band the Tories was deeply mourned by me at the time. Yet, had I known that it would result in the creation of one of the best albums of 2004, I would have been positively encouraging it.

Avion is a tight band, but make no mistake, Bertrand is the brainchild and chief of the operation, having worked tirelessly over the past two years writing new material and developing a vision for his songs. And simply put, Avion is an incredible opus of shamelessly commercial rock and pop that builds on the solid foundation left by the Tories’ farewell album Upside of Down.

There’s not a dud track in sight — quite something in an age where the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality — and even though the piano-based ballad “Seven Days Without You” was selected as the first single, any one of the nine other songs could have been chosen to lead the assault on the masses. Yes, Avion is THAT good.

The contemporary sounding pop-rock of “Beautiful” and “Loved” is so infectious it should come with a health warning. “Starting Over” is a classy, more measured and impressively apt song about rebirth and reinvention. “The Best Is Yet to Come” (on which Rami Jaffee guests) is pure pop heaven, and “When I Breathe” screams out to be the next single. When Avion crank up the volume on “Bulletproof Glow,” “Trinidad and a DC-10” and “Perfect From Now On,” things somehow get even better.

It’s only March, yet I’ll be surprised if a pop-rock album surfaces this year to top Avion. With enthusiastic support from Image Entertainment, it seems that Bertrand has the right vehicle to success. After a near miss with the Tories, Bertrand thoroughly deserves it if this album becomes the smash hit its material warrants.

Avion: http://www.avionmusic.com/

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