NOEL GALLAHGER sits there scowling on Japanese camera, his deadpan British mug the result of a few too many Class A substances. “The top ten things I hate?” There’s a pause, he looks off. Suddenly some interest flickers. “Cabbies, stupid people … Goths! I hate them! … Airports, and the rules you have to abide by to travel to another country. It’s horrible … and people who are late!”
Oasis is never late. Time, a central motif in their work, continues to go by and Oasis continue to release albums, each striving to regain the immediacy and impact they saw with their first two. They have now reached middle-age, and with it comes LP Number 7. Appropriately titled Dig Out Your Soul, these eleven cuts reveal the same old Oasis, still grubbing for the soul they captured as much younger men.
This time around Oasis has captured some of that youthful energy, mostly on display during the first half of the album. The strongest material is in their shameless opening tracks: “Bag It Up” perfectly features showcases Gallahger’s growl and the strongest melodies on the album, while “Waiting for the Rapture” brings their best to the table with a strong marching rhythm and crunching fretwork. It demonstrates that even at their most simplistic, Oasis can still write a killer song. Lead single “The Shock of the Lightning” also boasts an attractive melody and serves as the best example of the band’s non-sequitur songwriting: “Love is a time machine… up on the silver screen. It’s all in my mind.” This opening section ties themes of time, longing, and the rapture together with songs that will be incredible live.
Dig Out starts to shift on “I’m Outta Time.” For this record, Oasis adopted a democratic approach to songwriting, with all members contributing songs. Gallahger penned this tender Beatles-eque ballad about growing old and looking for security, and it’s the album’s lyrical and vocal highlight. It feels fitting: once famously troubled, the front man now jogs in the morning before dropping his kids off at school.
After the halfway mark, Oasis must have reached the bottom of their souls. “(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady” plods into boredom, pairing dull vocals with hoof sound-effects. The groove-oriented approach begins to wear a little thin. The remaining tracks feel interminably long and hookless, blending from beginning to end. The title comes from the cut “To Be Where’s There Life,” which is “Supersonic” slowed to middle-age sent off in the direction of nowhere. It also has an eastern vibe; Oasis, never one to avoid mimicry, now seems to be aping the Beatle’s penchant for mysticism. Not much stands out after that: “Ain’t Got Nothing” features more posturing and some decent drum work. Album closer “Soldier On” slows down the formula until it collapses under its tirelessly-repeated bass riff.
Oasis is a band of true rock stars, one of the few still remaining. They are not quite documentary-old like the Stones and the Eagles, but they remain of far greater importance than the current slew of flash-in-the-pan indie-blog rockers. Through their own efforts they stand in the cold light of the greats, with their surly growls and posturing, and as such, their work is held to higher standard. Some musicians—including Thom Yorke, famously—find this criticism crippling, but it has only ever rolled off Oasis’ monochromatic feathers. Criticism doesn’t shut them down, or cause them to re-examine and change. Instead, they simply give the world the finger and go back to whatever they were doing the moment before: bickering, snorting, parenting, drinking, jogging, and occasionally, writing great rock songs.
Nathanael Kurcab is a research analyst in the Washington, D.C. area.
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