Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oasis return

all things considered, the world is a better place with Oasis in it. and well done on getting this far, boys. line-up changes, having your biggest selling album (Be Here Now) seen in retrospect as not much good, a sound that goes in and out of popularity and numerous skirmishes with the law and tabloid headlines has sunk many musical careers. not Oasis. they seem to thrive on it. for a band to deliver a seventh album these days is quite an accomplishment in itself; to have it sound any good across the entire running length suggests there's more to follow. Dig Out Your Soul would suggest, then, that we have Oasis in our world for a while yet.

many reviews will take Dig Out Your Soul and bang on about how it isn't as explosive or groundbreaking as their debut Definitely Maybe, nor is it as career defining as their stunning, reputation building second, (What's The Story) Morning Glory. well, they would be lazy reviews. as this is not their debut, and nor do they have to prove anything to anyone, they couldn't unleash an album like either of those even if they wanted to. this is a band a good, what, 14 or 15 years into their career. give reviews like that a break, i think, concentrate on the here and now instead.

to briefly hark back to the early days, however, they have achieved what they said they would. during the infamous "rivalry" with Blur, Noel Gallagher went on record as saying that his only competition was bands like The Stones and U2. to this effect, Oasis have become U2. Dig Out Your Soul features one or two outstanding tracks and several songs that range from "decent" to "not bad" with the odd "ho hum" in between. This is what U2 do with an album to justify a worldwide tour that features sets comprising of a, shall we say, healthy reliance on the "classics" that the fans want to hear anyway. for the record, to become The Stones would involve turning out an album of songs which ranged from "not bad" to frequently "ho hum", safe in the knowledge that all they will do on the next tour will be the bona fide classics anyway. not a bad fate if you just want to rake in many, many $$$$$ after many years slaving away at your art, but not a fate that Oasis are ready for just yet.

so how far have Oasis developed artistically with this album? not any great particular distance, really, depending on how you see Noel now including The Doors within his list of artists that are worthy of a, well, homage to. have a listen to the opening of Waiting For The Rapture and if you don't start singing "no one here gets out alive" to yourself in your own interpretation of a Morrison voice well, then, i guess you're not too familiar with The Doors. like all previous, if you will infamous borrowings Oasis have committed, they get away with a bit of cheek as they at least sample some of a classic song to make a decent one of their own.

there's only one true clanger on this album, the curious (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady. this track would appear to be some less than subtle dig at someone or other, be it a journalist, critic, ex, groupie or someone that they just didn't at all like the look of. at least the band have accepted the song as such, and thus all the "experimentation" they could muster has been slung onto the four minutes of it; get ready for some bizarre blues / country & western fusion with some distorted vocals thrown in for good mix. this song might fall to more interested ears as and when we are told who exactly it's about, until such time i would not expect too much in the way of fans at gigs demanding to hear it.

with that unpleasant business out of the way, let's rather consider the better aspects of the album. the single The Shock Of The Lightning kind of grows on you after a few plays, but there's one or two tracks on Dig Out Your Soul that snack you straight away. interestingly, they're not Noel compositions. a firm fave so far would be the psychedelic journey To Be Where There's Life, the one and only contribution from Gem Archer. going on this, either Gem just took every good idea and slammed it into one track, or the rest of what he wrote was that good that Noel was having none of his tracks overshadowed too much and so they were dropped. it's rather tough not to appreciate Liam's Ain't Got Nothing, really. musically it's standard rock / punk fare, but the lyrics show the cocky, arrogant ways of the lad finally appearing in his words - "out on bail, to unveil" indeed! that's a rhyme that's up there with Pete Townshend at his angriest, and that is meant as a compliment.

Noel on form, however, remains the strength of the band. and what form he's in with the opening, Bag It Up. the obligatory "sunshine" lyric crops up here, but all that means is classic Oasis. that would mean a thundering, percussion driven overwhelming sound with some ace guitar licks laid over it all for good measure. take your thinking a bit too far and the lyrics frequently (and rightly) nail those currently courting fame and fortune with little or no claim to (Whinehouse, Doherty, this would be you), but in essence it's Noel saying "i can do this, nobody else can". this number distorting and morphing into the second track, The Turning, goes down very well indeed and gives you one of the strongest openings to an Oasis album yet.

and i do mean "yet". Dig Out Your Soul is an album by a band that's clearly full of the energy, enthusiasm and outright love of making music; nowhere near bored enough to just crank out average efforts to sate the taste for the fame and money. this isn't the best album by Oasis, and nor is it the best album of the year (Beautiful Future by Primal Scream looks to have that award). it is however one of the best rock albums you will hear this year. if you don't check it out, i doubt very much that the band would lose sleep, but you will be losing out on 40 odd minutes of quality vibes.
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