Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth
Liam McGrady 30/05/2005
I never thought I'd say these words but please, BRING BACK BONEHEAD!
You see, this is the thing. The Oasis sound that people knew and loved was: Bonehead with amp turned up to 11, massively distorted, pumping out the simplest of chords while Noel chucked the simplest of lead lines over the top. All pretty, well, simple. But it had a sort of raw power and a density; you were forced into paying attention, and the majority of the time ended up with the tunes stuck in your head whether you liked it or not.
Now I know that Oasis tend to get berated for not progressing and all that, but to quote from one of their own songs, “You had the chance but threw it away”. After 'What's The Story…' was the time to move on, when Noel was cropping up on Chemical Brothers records, Goldie's albums and mixing with the likes of Portishead; a move to some kind of dance/rock sound would have been the way to go. Unfortunately, as is documented on the post Morning Glory albums, too many of the later songs had arrangements that sapped away the brute force and the ballad-y sing-a-longs became overblown and even more average lyrically than previously (“All around the world, you gotta spread the word, tell 'em what you've heard, you know it's gonna be okay”).
Bringing in two accomplished musicians in the shape of Gem Archer and Andy Bell only accelerated Oasis's slide to mediocrity - because Oasis were never about fancy pants instrumentation, and clever dynamics. Oasis were important (god did I really just say that?) because they made music that was within your average kid on the street's grasp; it didn't take 10 years of learning an instrument to play 'Cigarettes & Alcohol'. Am I making a case here for Oasis as a punk band in the purest sense of the word “punk”? Errmm… I think I am.
Okay, the reason for all the reminiscing above (maybe I'll start a “Bring back Bonehead” campaign?) is due to the rumours that the new Oasis album would be a return to the Definitely Maybe era sound. Well, it's not. And it's not even the “third best Oasis album” as Noel G would have us believe (didn't he say that about all the others as well?). 'Don't Believe The Truth' is average at best.
Whether you liked Oasis or not, you couldn't argue with the fact that even on their later albums they've always had catchy songs, I mean I bet you can all hum the tunes to 'Stand By Me', 'Go Let It Out' and 'Little By Little'. On this new one though: nothing. Not one of the 11 tracks is going to have you whistling inanely; leaving you only to play the always enjoyable game of spotting who Noel has ripped off this time.
'Turn Up The Sun' sees ex Ride man Andy Bell get his foot in the door in the songwriting stakes and threatens to break into a bit of an anthem - with a swinging beat and raging guitars that remind of the good parts of 'Spirit In The Sky'. But it ultimately it goes nowhere; fading away after Liam's roaring of “Love one another, love one another” just when you're dying for Noel to let rip with a solo. Following this are the Velvet Underground-esque, minimal chord changing stomp of 'Mucky Fingers' and the Rolling Stones aping 'Lyla', both of which are dull and uninspiring to say the least.
'Love Like A Bomb' is the first of the 3 songs penned by Gallagher Jnr and actually is one of the highlights of the record - a charming and spirited acoustic strum in the vein of Coldplay circa 'Parachutes'. Liam's other efforts are barely worth a mention. Both revolve around the old acoustic guitar with 'The Meaning Of Soul' being fast and loud, and 'Guess God Thinks I'm Abel' being slow and understated - albeit with some fairly touching lyrics that seem to hold out an olive branch to brother Noel (“No one could break us, no one could take us, if they tried”).
Other blatant Noel steals come in the shape of 'The Importance Of Being Idle' and 'Part Of The Queue'. The former is The Kinks 'Dead End Street' punctuated by a pre-chorus of haunting piano's, which is lifted directly from The Coral's 'Calendars & Clocks', while the latter is a lament of the anonymity and drudgery of city living (“Suddenly I found that I'd lost my way in this city/The streets and the colours all bleed into one”) set to the melody of 'Golden Brown'. But just when you're on the verge of discarding 'Don't Believe The Truth' to the same place you put 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants'(wherever that was), there is a glimmer of hope; and it forces me to eat my words.
Andy Bell you are forgiven for taking Boneheads job (though he could still come back and stand around looking all bald). You are a legend; if only for knocking out an above average song for this record and giving my ears a break from the dullness. D'you know that bit right at the end of the coda of The Stone Roses' 'I Am The Resurrection'? You know; that little snippet of acoustic loveliness? Well 'Keep The Dream Alive' sounds similar to that but in full song form. Ringing guitars, a rumble of drums, the yearning rasp of “I'm at the crossroads, waiting for a sign/My life is standing still, but I'm still alive” from Liam, and finally, a guitar solo!
Finally, the lacklustre Lennon pastiche of 'Let There Be Love' closes the record with a level of dreariness I wasn't sure Oasis were capable of - it really is horribly boring. And as I sit here typing this in silence after the record has finished - with the rain lashing against the window - I ponder about where Oasis go next and how they ever got in this state; and then I snap out of it, give 'Don't Believe The Truth' two stars and put it on a shelf to gather piles, and piles, and piles of dust.