Oasis – Don’t Believe the Truth
A statement to die-hard Oasis fans. Having heard a couple of interesting sounding tracks on the radio, I was prepared to go against my better judgement and believe the Noel hype on this one. Well the bad news is that this is Definitely Not a Definitely Maybe. It’s not even a Be Here Now, but it does show some interesting developments that could signal a slow return to form.
For me, the record has an incoherent feel to it and there could be several reasons for this. Firstly the album had a couple of false starts. (Was it two or three?) Another factor could be Noel’s wider musical pilfering, it would be easy to argue that previously Oasis albums had a coherence or homogeniety by virtue of the narrowness of Noel’s influences, and on Don’t Believe… he has clearly been expanding his record collection. Lastly, with Noel’s contribution in terms of number of songs only just in the majority, it’s significant that the album’s defining tracks are from other writers. The last I see as a definite positive.
So what (or who) does it sound like?
The first track “Turn Up the Sun” is a throwaway Andy Bell Oasis pastiche. Noel’s first song “Mucky Fingers” is notable only for the odd combination of flagrant Velvet Underground plagiarism and the Northern English expression “mucky”! The first significant song is, significantly, Liam’s first contribution “Love Like a Bomb”, which has a pleasant, sunny, bouncy feel. The word “Beatlesque” springs to mind, but that’s hardly a surprise.
There’s a slight return to form for Noel with “The Importance of Being Idle”, which despite struggling with a clumsy, music hall arrangement, manages a pleasant tune. Check out the Pro-Tools “Chris Martin” snap-in that Noel used on the vocals! Liam’s “The Meaning of Soul” is basically third hand ’60s, i.e. it sounds like a Soundtrack of Our Lives rip-off, but his next contribution, “Guess God Thinks I’m Abel”, is a major song. The playground feel of the verse is no indication of the beautiful chorus or the delicate middle eight. I guess on every Oasis album there has to be a Noel song designed to get the copyright lawyers arguing, on Don’t Believe… it’s “Part of The Queue” – the intro and verse are “Golden Brown” by the Stranglers. The song is rescued a little by a strong chorus.
Andy Bell redeems himself with “Keep The Dream Alive”, an unashamedly Beatlesque (there’s that word again) song. The chorus is lovely. Gem Archer picks up the theme with “A Bell Ring”, a pleasant enough song built on top of the rhythm from “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
Closing track “Let There Be Love” is Noel’s take on Being There era Wilco, with a little Coldplay thrown in for spice in the chorus.
So what else is there to say? Liam’s vocals are in places pure characature, even for him there must be a limit on how long he can sustain the word “on” (“owwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnn”), but…. But! Particularly on his own songs there is some wonderful and sympathetic singing, a very welcome reminder of what made him the most magnetic frontman of the ’90s. Oh and the lyrics are appalling. In tracks 2-4 somebody has their mind “blown” in some way or other, but then again this is Oasis not Bright Eyes. Q magazine, you should be ashamed of yourselves! – (6/10)