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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Don't Believe The Truth

1. Turn Up The Sun
2. Mucky Fingers
3. Lyla
4. Love Like A Bomb
5. The Importance Of Being Idle
6. The Meaning Of Soul
7. Guess God Thinks I'm Abel
8. Part Of The Queue
9. Keep The Dream Alive
10. A Bell Will Ring
11. Let There Be Love

Aversion (3/5)
Matt Schild

Recently, Blur’s Damon Albarn bemoaned the sorry state of his band – essentially on hiatus until guitarist Graham Coxon returns to the fold – saying that in his act’s rivalry with Oasis, the Gallagher brothers won, simply because they haven’t splintered yet.

With Don’t Believe the Truth, Albarn may want to reconsider that line of thinking. While Oasis returns with its best album since the ’90s, that’s hardly a feather in its cap: The Britpop royalty wanders aimlessly on another lackluster attempt to find the chemistry of 1994’s Definitely Maybe (Epic). All the parts are still there, as the act’s Beatles and power-pop foundation remains, but if this is the best Oasis can muster in nearly a decade, it’s time Noel and Liam consider letting their petty squabbles break up the band.

More confident and direct than the band’s hideous past three albums, Don’t Believe the Truth still finds the act attempting to recapture the spark that made its early work so compelling. Backing away from the electronic extras and overproduced studio gloss that jacked up its recent records, Oasis sounds more like a real rock’n’roll band than it has in years. That alone invigorates the band and helps it pad a handful of fair-to-good tracks with mediocre filler and come out ahead simply because of its raw power. The days when Noel cranked out better B-sides than nearly all of his peers’ lead singles, however, seems destined to be forever left in the mid-’90s.

Instead we get second-class singles that play up the band’s Britpop and Beatles obsessions (“Lyla”), stomping rock numbers that sound as if the act self-consciously turned up the heat and rocked out to keep up with the young ones (“Turn on the Sun”) and takes at soft mod overtones that reveal the band’s Small Faces influences (“The Importance of Being Idle”). Singer Liam's voice never sounded more booze-and-cigarette burned, and even on the band’s best tracks (“Guess God Thinks I’m Abel” and “Let There Be Love”), Noel and the crew can’t seem to give him the juice.

It’s a step forward for Oasis, which was previously writhing in misery, though not enough to make anyone outside of the Gallagher brothers swallow all their tripe about being the world’s greatest rock act. Blur’s Albarn doesn’t have too much to worry about: Longevity is about the only thing Oasis has on his crumbling band.

David Cheal

Time for another Oasis album, and guess what? It's not very good. Let's face it: they haven't made a great one since (What's the Story) Morning Glory? in 1995.

Since then, there have been sporadic outbursts of Noel Gallagher's once shining gift for melody, some fantastic gigs that have traded largely on the legacy of their early years, and a lot of sludge. And so it is with Don't Believe the Truth: a few gems glisten, but overwhelmingly this is uninspiring stuff - lumpy, clumpy, derivative.

The gems? Mucky Fingers - notwithstanding its enormous debt of gratitude to the Velvets' Waiting for the Man - is deep, dark and thrilling, The Meaning of Soul (written by Liam) is 103 seconds of pulverising shock rock, and A Bell Will Ring is a hammer-and-tongs wall-of-guitars Oasis classic.

Oh, and the current number one, Lyla, has a nice chorus. But when Oasis do their big outdoor tour thing this summer, it's hard to imagine many of these songs joining their canon of bouncy, singalong crowd-pleasers. They' re just not good enough.

Village Voice
Mike Delano

Were Oasis ever cool? Even in their mid-'90s heyday, when their skill at bashing out killer rock songs was actually rewarded by a worldwide fan base eager to receive them, it's hard to remember any wide-eyed American critics frantically waving the Union Jack in support of Manchester's finest. Pundits here were always more comfortable lauding the considerable but decidedly less immediate pleasures of the safely hip, moderately popular crews of the Blur and Pulp stripe.

For that reason, it's kind of hard to stomach the glee with which some critics have twisted the knife into Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis's sixth record of new material. It's rightly described as a continuation of the rapidly deteriorating creativity the band has exhibited since 2000's Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, but where was the peak they were supposedly sliding away from? For all we've been told, this is their sixth bummer in a row rather than the culmination of some grand artistic collapse.

Truth be told, Oasis were making some of the best no-frills rock music around all the way through the B sides of 1997's bloated but unfairly maligned Be Here Now. Their dedication to two-sided singles, harking back to the Smiths in spirit if not sound, meant there were all sorts of would-be hits floating around, from the enormity of "My Sister Lover" to the lazy charm of "Alive," that didn't make it to the albums—which, therefore, even in the beginning, weren't the end-all distillations of Oasis's talent.

What was then a bounty of shiny, instantly accessible songs turned to crumbs with Giants, and the drought continued through 2002's dismal Heathen Chemistry. The only bright spots were the Noel Gallagher–penned-and-performed stompers "Where Did It All Go Wrong?" and "Force of Nature." On the former, Noel bared his fangs at all the plastic people around him while trying his best to fashion the question in the song's title as an accusatory lash rather than a paranoid lament. On the latter, he reads the riot act to the would-be pillagers of his cocaine and money with all of the "stop feeding off me!" disgust of Cool Hand Luke.

So wouldn't you know that the best moments on Don't Believe the Truth, wherein Noel's iron grasp on songwriting is loosened to include not just Liam Gallagher but faceless bassist Andy Bell and rhythm guitarist Gem Archer, are his alone. "Mucky Fingers" rides the "I'm Waiting for the Man" guitar riff for all its worth as Noel berates no one in particular, and the harmonica freak-out toward the end brings the whole ordeal just one jug-blower short of a proper hoedown. "Part of the Queue" is a dark, dusty dark number that builds more tension with an acoustic guitar and a piano than any Oasis song ever has, while "The Importance of Being Idle" is a flashback to the focused bombast of the band's 1998 B sides.

Elsewhere on the album, things are only marginally brighter for the Liam-sung material than they have been for the past five years. "Love Like a Bomb" and "Turn Up the Sun" are the half-assed filler we've become accustomed to, weighted down by clumsy rhymes ("You turn me on/Love's like a bomb/Blowing my mind") and an utter lack of momentum. "Lyla" is the same sort of flailing attempt at an anthem as "The Hindu Times" from Heathen Chemistry, and only gets props for a winning, but wasted, vocal from Liam.

In the end, it's Oasis's attempts to capture former pinnacles, from trying to re-create the simple sunny-side-up pleasures of "Live Forever" to trying for another album-ending mountain like "Champagne Supernova," that keep their latter-day output so entirely forgettable. Those were singular glories, and five years of mostly lifeless retreads does a number on an audience's tolerance as the band continue its slooow ride to the end of the tunnel.

Jay Ditzer

What does it say about Oasis that the best songs on their albums are now being written by the new guys? It says a whole lot, actually.

It wasn't that long ago that band mastermind Noel Gallagher was cranking out the Beatle pastiches at such a furious rate that Oasis was able to release a whole CD of B-sides (1998's The Masterplan), and even then, they had to leave a few stellar cuts off of that compilation. But things have kind of gone to hell for Gallagher and crew since their mid-90s heyday.

Case in point: Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis's sixth album. It opens strong with bass player Andy Bell's "Turn Up the Sun" before Noel's plodding "Mucky Fingers" (pounding rhythm pilfered from the Velvet Underground's "Waiting for the Man") steps in, killing the momentum and serving as a harbinger of what's in store for the listener. First single "Lyla" isn't much better -- this time, Noel swipes from the Stones's "Street Fighting Man" -- and it's all downhill from there.

Putting it differently, when guitarist Gem Archer's "A Bell Will Ring" is a high point, well, you're not in the presence of musical greatness.

Given the notorious sibling rivalry between Noel and singer Liam Gallagher, hope is unintentionally presented by Liam's "Guess God Thinks I'm Abel." You'd think that maybe Liam had written a tune about his relationship with his brother incorporating a clever Biblical reference, but no: Liam merely can't spell, and nobody bothered to correct the typo. Which just about sums it all up, doesn't it?


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