Oasis ‘Dig Out Your Soul’

September 26, 2008

Oasis, as Alan McGee asserted, are “too young to be the Stones, too old to be part of that whole Libertines thing”; a band that once ruled the waves but now find themselves adrift in a world they never made. After Britpop slunk apologetically into its grave, Oasis knew they could not replicate their success and cultural impact of the mid-90s so instead settled on pursuing their own brand of 60s-brand of retrorock, albeit to diminishing returns and pervading apathy. By the end of the century the bow was beginning to break: Oasis had little left to lose and everything to win back.

Nostalgia is the enemy of progress, yet Oasis have evolved via looking back to rough country staccato rhythms and thumping glam rock bass to create a sound on new album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ that markedly builds on 2005’s critical resurgence ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’. After losing themselves in the middlemost mists of the middle of the road post-‘Be Here Now’, the band pursued increasingly meandering rock avenues that only exasperated their knuckle-dragging, chin-jutting Neanderthal image. But then again, nobody grumbled when The Ramones released album after album of near identical fare, so when the critics predictably miss the point and start whinnying about how Oasis have forsaken the chance to forge excursions into Wagnerian trip-hop in favour of, y’know the usual quota of guitars, drums and songs loaded with ‘shines’ and ‘minds’ that are vaguely Beatles-esque; it’s like slamming Shakespeare for ripping off the dictionary. This is what Oasis do and it’s far too late for anyone to do anything about that now.

Before the album was finished and he’d developed a taste for stage-diving, Noel declared his aim to write “music that had more of a groove”, which he has, but occasionally at the expense of the song. Since 2000’s ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’, Oasis have always come back with a righteous call to arms of everyman exuberance – ‘Go Let it Out’, ‘The Hindu Times’, ‘Lyla’ – and ‘DOYS’ does not disappoint. Lead single ‘The Shock of the Lightning’ is a propulsive, balls-out rocker that comes on like The Kinks with a nosebleed. However, it’s also one of the few obvious singles on the album.

Opener ‘Bag It Up’ is built around a riff that sounds like it fights with razorblades tucked between its knuckles, verving moodily into view as Liam snarls with commendable fury. ‘The Turning’ is the greatest song that the Stone Roses never wrote, flailing round the room like it’s got a fork in its eye whilst the ‘Waiting For The Rapture’ is ‘The Hardest Button To Button’ wearing lipstick and tottering around in its mum’s high heels. Building up a head of steam, ‘The Falling’ is a classic Noel-led track that showcases both his enduring talent and continued relevance; melded a solemn groove to Last Shadow Puppets (Scott Walker?) strings. It’s the sound of a man ricocheting off the walls of his own talent and one of several highlights to be found here. Every member of the band contributes a track to the album, though if anyone emerges from ‘DOYS’ as a challenge to Noel, it’s his younger brother, who has come a long way baby since ‘Little James’. The other clear single is his ‘I’m Outta Time’, a Lennon-esque (gasp!) ballad to quietly fall in love to. Superlatives spring, gazelle-like, to mind.

Mind you, ‘Ain’t Got Nothing’ is a bit guff, but there’s barely time to register that before ‘The Nature Of Reality’ kicks the side of your head in with one of the Oasis’ best and meanest riffs, uncurling as a nagging rhythmic strut that sounds like it was pretty much tailormade for Liam to sway simian-like in front of the drums as 30,000 people sing it back at him in enormodomes around the world. It’s a song that displays the depth of Oasis beyond Noel’s talents and entirely robs Kasabian of a reason to exist. But it wouldn’t be an Oasis album unless there was at least one track that sounds like it was surgically removed with a giant syringe from the inside of Paul McCartney’s head, ‘(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady’ coming on like ‘Rocky Racoon’ with a sinuous groove that’s fuzzier than Marc Bolan in mittens.

Overall, Oasis continue to grow in their own imperceptible and idiosyncratic ways, incorporating much brighter and more multipart sounds to their traditional collage of spittle-flecked indie bombast, from drone to acid rock. ‘DOYS’ stands as a testament to everything Oasis are, and more importantly, what they are capable of. A densely packed album which, although lacking the customary presence of at least two radio-levelling singles, sees Andy and Gem’s efforts beginning to match up to the prowess of Noel. And Liam is finally starting to make up for ‘Little James’. Welcome to Oasis mark II.

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One Response to “Oasis ‘Dig Out Your Soul’”

  1. The Captain Says:

    Awesome review. I just posted my interview over on my blog. Let me know if you want to link up and I can add you to my blog roll and other reviews of this album.

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