Oasis Reviews Archive

Reviews from as many Oasis albums, singles and concerts as I can fine. Hopefully in the future incorporating pictures, audio and video.

Monday, July 01, 2002

Heathen Chemistry

1. The Hindu Times
2. Force Of Nature
3. Hung In A Bad Place
4. Stop Crying Your Heart Out
5. Songbird
6. Little By Little
7. A Quick Peep
8. (Probably) All In The Mind
9. She Is Love
10. Born On A Different Cloud
11. Better Man
HT. The Cage

Metro Times
Rossiter Drake

More than a year after Noel Gallagher modestly admitted that Oasis is no longer “the most important band in the world,” the cantankerous guitarist/songwriter has given the world reason to believe that he and his brother, lead vocalist Liam, are still capable of compelling rock ’n’ roll. To be sure, Heathen Chemistry is an uneven effort, mixing a number of sophomoric duds with some of the band’s strongest material since its 1995 breakthrough album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? But the frenetic energy, rugged chops and devil-may-care attitude that once invigorated the band’s most lasting anthems — Definitely Maybe’s “Shakermaker” and Morning Glory’s “Hello” spring to mind — remain vividly evident in the righteous swagger of “Force of Nature” and the majestic drone of “(Probably) All in the Mind.” Clearly, the Gallagher brothers can still captivate audiences with their bombastic bar-rock, as they did so effortlessly on 2000’s rousing live effort, Familiar to Millions. The only question is whether they’d prefer to spend their days making music or feuding in the British tabloids.

As with any Oasis album, Noel Gallagher’s star-studded cast of muses looms large on Heathen Chemistry, a collection of insta-classic rock numbers that should probably credit Brit Pop luminaries such as John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend in the liner notes. It’s hard not to spot the “Won’t Get Fooled Again”-inspired bluster at the outset of “Hung in a Bad Place,” a solid rocker that sounds so familiar it might have come from a how-to manual for aspiring bar bands. “All in the Mind,” featuring ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, borrows its swirling, psychedelic backbeat from the Fab Four’s “Tomorrow Never Knows.” And “Better Man,” one of three Chemistry experiments written by Liam Gallagher, sounds like a catchy little castoff from Yellow Submarine, a cut from the same cloth as “Hey Bulldog.”

The good news is that the album’s finest cuts — “All in the Mind,” “Force of Nature” and the blistering opener, “The Hindu Times” — boast the same hook-laden melodies and sing-along choruses that propelled Morning Glory and 1997’s Be Here Now to the top of the charts worldwide. There’s no tour de force in the tradition of “Wonderwall” or “Champagne Supernova” here — “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” is a wannabe epic that falls flat — and the band’s biggest misstep, the lyrically inept “Little By Little,” is proof that Noel should stop indulging his weakness for maudlin ballads. Even so, it’s clear that Oasis still has an ear for great, albeit derivative, rock ’n’ roll, and the proof is in the Chemistry.

The Age.com.au
Neil McCormick

Liam and the lads are back

News recently that a mop-topped Mancunian with a foul mouth was thrown out of London's exclusive Met Bar after abusing fellow drinkers and trying to start a fight with several giant bouncers could only mean one thing. Oasis are back.

The bad boys of Britpop have released their first single in two years, The Hindu Times, to a distinctly mixed reception. With their formerly invincible aura tarnished by poor reviews and declining sales over their last two studio albums, many critics have been dismissing the group as an irrelevant throwback to a bygone era when men were lads, women were ladettes, Britannia was cool and Tony Blair was still popular. The public, nevertheless, has been voting with their pockets. The Hindu Times went straight to number one in the UK, just as if Pop Idol never happened, before dropping to number four in its second week.

I have to say I am on the side of record-buyers on this one. Sure, the sneering vocals, walls of guitars, anthemic chorus and nonsense lyrics hardly represent some groundbreaking development in the annals of rock, but even when Oasis were trend-setters they were hardly innovators. I particularly like the blistering guitar riff - though I liked it even more the first time I heard it, on U2's Even Better Than the Real Thing in 1991. (Noel Gallagher has often been accused of basing his entire songwriting oeuvre on The Beatles; at least this suggests he might be widening his frame of references by a couple of decades.)

The Hindu Times is not about to change the world, but at least it looks set to knock Gareth Gates and his half-baked cabaret cruise-liner cover version off the top of the charts, and for that we should all be truly grateful. Oasis can be depended on to put some colour back in the cheeks of British pop music, particularly with Liam in such confrontational form. "Put me in a room with any of these bands today. They wouldn't walk out alive, and I'd put money on it," he bullishly declared in a recent NME interview. Oh, how the Met Bar bouncers must have laughed when they read that.

To use a songwriting metaphor, the man is clearly a few bars short of a middle eight - which is precisely what pop music needs in this bland era of homogenised conformity. He may not be a model citizen, but he's got a voice as big as his sunglasses and the poise to carry off whatever ridiculous outfit he has decided to wear this week. How I've missed him.

And not only me, it seems. A recent Music Week survey found that the forthcoming Oasis album, Heathen Chemistry, is the most keenly awaited release by a British artist this year, with 49 per cent of respondents saying they were looking forward to hearing it, compared with 34 per cent for Will Young.

They may not have to wait long. With the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry blaming the global downturn in record sales on Internet piracy, the music business has become as security-conscious as the American airline industry (which is to say, the intention may be sincere but the procedures remain less than convincing).

Rather than allow unscrupulous journalists to get their grubby hands on the product for fear that we would immediately flog it to the nearest bootlegger, a gentleman from the Oasis press office was dispatched to my abode personally to play me three tracks. To be fair, he did allow me to listen to them twice before he removed the cassette and departed. About five minutes after he left, an e-mail arrived announcing a British Phonographic Institute investigation into how the whole of the new Oasis album had ended up on the Internet. Well, it wasn't me, guv.

Heathen Chemistry (which will not be released officially until July) turns out to be a dirty, bluesy, heartfelt, singalong, rock-and-roll opus that represents a vast improvement on the last two Oasis offerings. Skilful interplay between the musicians (two of whom have joined since Oasis were last in the studio) ensures the songs have plenty of twists and distinctive features. There are many highlights, including the epic ballad Stop Crying Your Heart Out, which Liam promises will be number one when England are knocked out of the World Cup. But the surprise of the set is the sensitivity and accomplishment of Liam's three songwriting contributions, notably a sinuous, riff-driven rocker Better Man, in which young Gallagher voices a previously unsuspected desire for self-improvement (something not, it must be said, borne out by recent behaviour).

The sheer excitement generated by Oasis in their heyday, combined with Noel's penchant for Beatlesque chord changes, led to erroneous comparison with that most creative and innovative of pop groups.

In retrospect, Oasis have more in common with such British rock institutions as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, great live bands capable of delivering accomplished, energising albums, just so long as they don't stray too far from the beaten track. Certainly, Oasis are unlikely ever again to alter the landscape of British music, but I have a feeling that this album could deliver the one thing that has conspicuously evaded their grasp: America.

The Daily Orange - 4/5
Ashlea Halpern

Booze, birds and blow aside, the boys in Oasis aren't half-bad blokes.

Determined to make its grand rock 'n' roll comeback with Heathen Chemistry, the Manchester quintet has made an album worthy of sitting beside Definitely Maybe in their back catalogue.

Songwriter/Guitarist Noel Gallagher has finally loosened up enough to let the rest of the band have a proper go at songwriting, and the results are monumental. Once the reigning kings of coke-fueled psychosis—spitting at press, deriding every band in the business and calling arch-nemesis Damon Albarn of Blur a "cuntfuck" every chance they could—Liam, Noel, Alan, Gem and Andy have wiped the smug smiles from their faces.

Better therapy than a handful of Valium chased by vodka, "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" is a cruel number—an anthem for the brokenhearted—and more poignant than a switchblade to the groin. The sweeping melody evokes memories of failed high school relationships, from screwing in your parents basement while they ate breaded chicken wings upstairs to the sickening collapse of your throat when he smoothed your hair, brushed the wetness from your cheeks, and insisted it was him and not you.

While such touchy-feely, lovey-dovey ballads may seem peculiar for the otherwise rowdy, indignant and cocksure Oasis, Heathen Chemistry is more about chemistry than it is about heathens. Rumor even has it that the Gallagher brothers, who once upon a time fought over a sweater and subsequently cancelled their American tour, are actually getting along.

For all we know, the boys tied the knot and spend Friday nights perusing the IKEA catalogue for nursery rockers. The pervading theme of love is quite refreshing though.

"Born on a Different Cloud," with its hauntingly Lennonesque vocals and layered piano, shamelessly forays into the Beachwood Sparks' paisley revival while the rollicking "Force of Nature" picks up where Oasis left off—"smoking all my stash/burning all my cash" in a very Iggy, very glam resurrection. The lads even dust off their cowboy boots for some diner-stomping action in the bluesy "Force of Nature," a number that could topple any greasy Alabama jukebox.

Oasis may have cleaned up its act, but don't be fooled. They're still convinced they're the best thing to happen to rock 'n' roll since electric guitars, and you'd be the cuntfuck to think you could actually decipher a single word they say.