Wednesday, May 25, 2005
CD Review: Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth
The truth is that the new Oasis album is more of the same stuff they’ve been peddling ever since Be Here Now – medium tempo rock that’s moderately catchy, lyrically lame, and a diminishment of the reputation built from their first two albums. Don’t Believe The Truth is being heralded as a return to form by their record company, but that’s what they’ve been saying for each new Oasis release. It’s as if they can’t accept that Britpop is dead, so they haul out the corpse periodically for rock critics to either chant curses or poetry over while the general population yawns and buys the latest hip hop album. I was hoping Oasis could be Sally Field for a day with this new one – I really wanted to like them, I really did.
Part of the hype surrounding Don’t Believe The Truth is how Oasis is now a true band with all the members contributing songs to the cause (with the exception of poor little Zak Starkey who barely rates a mention on the drum). As with Heathen Chemistry this is not necessarily a good thing. The opening track, “Turn Up The Sun”, was composed by Andy Bell and it is as boring as anything in his old band Ride’s catalog. I guess it could be called shoe-geezer rock. One of the frustrating things about Oasis is how they almost come up with a good song every so often – take “Mucky Fingers” for example: we have a Velvet Underground meets Mott The Hoople style tune that could have really stirred things up, but instead it just paces the floor for a few minutes before disappearing leaving you with that I’ve heard that song before sinister similarity. At least it rings true lyrically – as long as Oasis are on about me, me, me you’re on solid ground since narcissism is their greatest strength.
When they start delving into love, rest assured you’ll get lots of cheap bromides or even worse like “you turn me on, your love’s like a bomb, blowing my mind” from “Love Like A Bomb’ which turns a likeable enough tune cringeworthy. What little they’ve learned of love came from the Beatles and you’d think mining that rich shaft would yield something better than “Let There Be Love”; yet another five plus minute clunker in the Oasis songbook that trys so hard to be an anthem you begin to wonder if the Gallagher’s are hoping somebody will knit them a flag or something. I don’t know who “kicked a hole in the sky so the heavens could cry over” them, but I sure wish they would stop. I’m starting to wonder if Bonehead wasn’t the brains behind the whole operation.
The album’s first single, “Lyla”, has been touted by Noel as being, “… the soundtrack of our lives doing The Who on Skol in a psychedelic city in the sky (or something...”, but I don’t hear it, though an argument could likely be made comparing the track to It’s Hard era Who. In its defense, it has hit no. 1 in the UK. When your main influences seems to be The Beatles and Slade you know there has to be some good stuff on the record too. I thought “The Importance Of Being Idle” was nice in a Kinks “Sunny Afternoon” vein although I doubt Noel would be satisfied merely with “..,a bed beneath the stars that shine” but the line about him being lazy was funny. “The Meaning Of Soul” is a brief, frenetic surprise from a band known more for overindulgence. Andy Bell’s “Keep The Dream Alive” is too long, but it is pretty.
So Don’t Believe The Truth continues the Oasis story along in a non-spectacular way, but what was I really expecting. At the height of Britpop one could be forgiven for thinking Oasis might end up as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. Who could have known that they’d just end up being the next Wishbone Ash churning out lackluster album after album? Their own shadow looms large and perhaps it's unfair to think they’re capable of capturing the essence of their former spark and I should just accept what they’re giving – mildly engaging derivative rock and roll. In a world where rock and roll music is quickly becoming just another marginalized genre another disappointing record from Oasis is still better than nothing if you're bored enough.
Posted by Wally Bangs