Oasis— A Return To Relevance

oasisWhen a band’s debut release far exceeds anyone’s expectations, the remainder of that band’s existence is often spent chasing after past triumphs, attempting (mostly in vain) to recapture that ever-so-evasive initial success… and even the poetic critical acclaim. Until 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth, it seemed as though Oasis might be one of those bands, creatively spinning its wheels and eternally on the verge of a major comeback— a return to relevance in the vein of beloved, epochal one-two punch Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Dig Out Your Soul, the British rockers’ first studio effort in three years and their seventh studio album, continues to restore that once noble luster to Noel and Liam Gallagher’s considerable legacy, so badly tarnished in the eyes of fans and critics by the coked-out bloat of 1997’s Be Here Now (although, if you ask me, that’s one disc in dire need of revisiting) and the seamy, aimless 2000 follow-up Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Re-teamed with producer Dave Sardy, who oversaw Truth’s visceral, melodic return to form, the brothers Gallagher have shifted songwriting duties a bit, with elder Noel allowing younger Liam a more permanent seat at the table (Liam penned three of the 11 tracks here). The result, as it was on Truth, is a slightly more balanced batch of songs, rather than Noel’s tendency to write stylistically similar but often lyrically vacant works… this was primarily due to his overtly brash sense of his own talent.

Regardless of Noel’s uncompromising inner demons, Champagne Supernova is a stone-cold classic, and 14 years later, the homage to all that we’ve somehow misplaced… still creates a sense of nostalgia… an almost uncompromising Beatlemania of sorts. Dig Out Your Soul once again features songwriting contributions by all four band members: vocalist Liam Gallagher, guitarists Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer, and bassist Andy Bell. The album, which was recorded at Abbey Road and mixed in Los Angeles, marks the band’s latest approach to the songwriting process. As principal songwriter Noel Gallagher puts it: “I wanted to write music that had a groove, not songs that followed that traditional pattern of verse, chorus, and middle eight. I wanted a sound that was more hypnotic and driving, with songs that would draw you in; songs that you would maybe have to connect to… to feel.”

From crunchy-psychedelic album opener Bag It Up through to the propulsive lead single The Shock of the Lightning, Oasis seems remarkably supple throughout Soul, a band hitting its stride midway through its multiplatinum existence— or, at the very least, getting its groove back— yet retaining a hunger that can seep out of groups achieving even a fraction of what Oasis has. Of course, now that Oasis has reclaimed the mantle of one of Britain’s most essential rock bands, it needs to hang onto it. The famously combustible Gallaghers may decide to scrap the whole thing after their current world tour— especially if Noel, who was bum-rushed in Toronto this year, continues to endure attacks from overzealous fans— but it’d be a real shame to bring the whole enterprise to a halt now… just as they’re allowing themselves to indulge once again in the brilliant sounds that first turned so many heads.

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~ by upbeatmag on December 9, 2008.

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