Oasis | Dig Out Your Soul
Most Likely To: make you wish the Brothers Gallagher were taking more drugs.
Don’t Believe the Truth was an excellent album for Oasis fans, especially devoted ones. After the joke that was Heathen Chemistry, Don’t Believe the Truth was just the kick in the head that I needed to really get excited again about a band that had it (I mean seriously, fucking had it), pissed it away in one of the more disappointing falls from grace I’ve seen yet and still had enough gall to start climbing the ladder of respectability all over again. The bastards just seem to be unable to give up, a fact that we the listener can count as a mixed blessing.
Oasis has, historically, been an exercise in trying to pull off all aspects of rock and roll simultaneously. For the bulk of their career, Oasis have accomplished this mainly due to the brilliance of Noel Gallagher as a songwriter. Even when the man’s offerings have been little more than inane drivel turned up to 11 (see Professor Honeydew’s excellent piece on the worst Oasis lyrics on Definitely Maybe), he’s managed to make it work by tailoring the more ridiculous bits to the only man that could actually pull them off (i.e. brother Liam) and delivering the really beautiful ones himself. This formula seemed to work pretty consistently up until now; Liam gets the ragers while Noel gets the experiments. But for some reason lately, Noel seems hell bent on expanding the experimental side of things into Liam’s realm. This is dubious territory. We already know what Liam sounds like when he isn’t coked up and balled out and unfortunately its a hushed parody of what he is at his best. “Heathen Chemistry” was the first example of this uncomfortable stylistic pairing and we all know how well that worked out. Don’t Believe the Truth turned things back up (for good measure, too) but almost struck me as being too good to be true (Oasis sound like they’re on drugs again? Praises be!) Dig Out Your Soul, however, is a bit trickier of a beast to wrangle.
If nothing else, Dig Out Your Soul is evidence of Noel Gallagher’s efforts to evolve the band’s sound and, in doing so, force people to reevaluate their opinions on what Oasis is really worth. In stepping outside of his songwriting comfort zone, Noel has finally started to get the hang of matching Liam’s voice with more unorthodox arrangements (unorthodox for Oasis, at least) but has yet to get it exactly right. While none of the songs fall flat on their faces in any way, there just isn’t something clicking yet between Liam’s delivery and the simpler, sparser feel to this album. Yes, I am glad to see the band trying to grow their sound in new and interesting ways (the Gem Archer penned “To Be Where There’s Life,” for example, is the first Oasis song to actually not have any guitar whatsoever on the track), but when you’re in Oasis the “less is more” doctrine just doesn’t apply.
Such a doctrine is, to the album’s detriment, applied liberally throughout the course of Dig Out Your Soul. What makes this inconsistency even more obvious, however, is just how extreme of a shift we have between the songs sung by Liam and those sung by Noel. Noel is an expert at crafting that whole “wall of sound” sensation and does so to a wonderful degree on songs like “Falling Down”. But as brilliant as they are individually, their inclusion tends to serve mainly as a reminder of what everything else on the album is lacking.
Not that Dig Out Your Soul is a poor effort in any sense, not at all, it just doesn’t strike me, overall, as being the best that Oasis is capable of especially in light of Noel’s development as a songwriter and the now proven capabilities of every other member of the band to churn out a few bangers when necessary. Good job overall, lads, but when it comes time to craft a follow up be sure to up the substance abuse just a pinch more.
Listen to “Falling Down” from Oasis: