Don't Believe The Truth Label: Epic/Sony
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 11 years since the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, unleashed Definitely Maybe onto an unsuspecting audience. No matter what a touchstone of the Britpop movement that album may have been, however, this is a whole new era.
It’s no longer Oasis vs. Blur; it’s Oasis vs. the world.
After 1995’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? and the worldwide smash of “Wonderwall,” the band was in a position to take over the planet...but, then, they gave us the coke-addled Be Here Now in 1997, with almost every song lasting about a minute too long, and any momentum they’d achieved in the States was shot all to hell. Despite achieving somewhat of a critical comeback with Standing on the Shoulders of Giants in 2000, the moment had passed for Oasis in the US; they were just another bunch of one-hit wonders.
But, then, there was 2002’s Heathen Chemistry.
It wasn’t that the album was the best in the band’s career – on the whole, it’s not as consistently strong as the record that immediately preceded it – but, for the first time, there was a glimmer of hope that Oasis might not just be the Gallagher brothers anymore, but rather, a proper band. The more obvious sign was that production was credited to “The Band,” but additionally, there were songwriting contributions from members of the group besides Noel and Liam; guitarist Gem Archer wrote “Hung in a Bad Place,” and bassist Andy Bell, late of Ride, tossed off an instrumental.
The arrangement seems to have grown on the band; Don’t Believe the Truth is the best thing they’ve released since Morning Glory. Bell contributes two tracks this time around (“Keep the Dream Alive” and the killer opener, “Turn Up the Sun”); Archer writes one track solo (“A Bell Will Ring”) and even co-writes one with Liam (“Love Like a Bomb”). Liam, meanwhile, manages to get two of his own songs into the mix. Noel, of course, still writes the lion’s share, but it’s a testimonial to Oasis’s evolution into a democracy that he who was once the band’s primary songwriter has written less than half of the disc.
Copping an attitude with Oasis for sounding like the Beatles is like getting mad at your dog for peeing on the carpet when he’s been cooped up in your apartment for 18 hours without a chance to go outside. In your heart of hearts, you knew it was gonna happen, so why waste your breath getting upset about it? In point of fact, however, Don’t Believe the Truth is the least Beatle-esque album the Gallaghers have released to date...which is actually a little bit surprising, given that the band has the excuse of blaming it on genetics (new drummer Zak Starkey is Ringo’s son). Sure, it’s still British guitar pop with an emphasis on hooks and harmonies, so the comparison is inevitable, but it’s no longer a matter of picking which bits have been borrowed from which Lennon and McCartney compositions. Lead single “Lyla” certainly has more of a Rod Stewart swagger than a Beatles vibe, “The Importance of Being Idle” is the Kinks meeting the Beach Boys, and “Mucky Fingers” is a right stomper, plain and simple.
If it’s too much to hope that Oasis can flex enough commercial muscle nowadays to properly compete with Coldplay in the charts, at least they can take comfort in knowing that, for a change, they’ve got an album on their hands that lives up to the hype that Liam and Noel invariably offer in their interviews.
Glad to have you back in top form, lads.