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Oasis - Heathen Chemistry


Review: Jack Foley

SAY what you will about Oasis, but they remain one of the most important bands of the times. It's been eight long years since the Manchester bad boys burst onto the scene with their glorious debut, Definitely Maybe, but each new offering (and Heathen Chemistry is their fifth) is greeted with a breathless anticipation reserved for only the best bands in the world.

The band's second album, (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, is the stuff of legends, prompting a weight of expectancy that no band could be expected to reasonably burden. Needless to say, follow-up efforts Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulders of Giants disappointed in their 'mediocrity'.

Yet you have to feel a tinge of sympathy for the Gallaghers. Whereas current bands of the moment Doves and Idlewild have been efficiently doing their thing for years, before finally breaking through with The Last Broadcast and the upcoming The Remote Part (which is already earning raves), Oasis announced their arrival with two classics and have struggled to reach those heights ever since.

Heathen Chemistry, while not quite in the same mould as Definitely or Story, marks a second coming of sorts. Buoyed by two breathless singles - The Hindu Times and Stop Crying Your Heart Out, which mark the band at its best - plus a sell-out Finsbury Park gig (in July), fans have every reason to feel excited again.

Yet if you were expecting anything different from the norm, or anything groundbreaking, you are in for a disappointment. Heathen Chemistry remains the sound of a great band doing what they do well. We're talking rock anthems, gutsy guitars, Beatles-inspired vocals, sing-a-long choruses, the works. The only difference being that more of the songs have been written by different band members - Liam weighs in with three, while Gem Archer and former Hurricane #1 supremo, Andy Bell, add one each. The sound remains the same, however - distinctly Oasis.

Not that this is a bad thing, of course, because if it 'aint broke, why fix it? Radiohead have tried to, with varying degrees of success, as have Primal Scream. Yet, done well, experimentation can prolong and broaden a band's appeal, as in the case of U2 and The Rolling Stones, who have journeyed through the decades with an ever-increasing army of fans.

Oasis, however, seem content to go with the flow and have millions to show for it. And there is much to admire on the new album, aside from the singles, which have been reviewed to death (check out our singles guide, updated weekly, by clicking here).

For starters, there is the instantly catchy (Probably) All In The Mind, a Noel-penned anthem which recaptures the spirit of The Beatles' psychedelia, while also evoking memories of early Kula Shaker. Born On A Different Cloud, penned by Liam, is another which owes much of its inspiration to Lennon and co, while Little By Little (with its enticing mix of acoustic and electric guitars) is just a great track - the type you will want to skip back to almost as soon as it's finished.

Another Liam effort, Songbird, is also a simple treasure - acoustic, piano-laden and effortlessly upbeat; it's the kind of track which will have you wanting to play tambourine alongside every beat.

Elsewhere, however, the album feels uninspired and lazy. Track 6, an instrumental interlude called A Quick Peep, may as well be called Fuckin' In The Bushes, part two, while Hung In A Bad Place, by Gem Archer, is just a bland piece of rock; an album filler, if you will. Force of Nature is another track which sounds too heavily-influenced by other artists to be great, although it is a grower.

Yet, overall, this is a really good listen and well worth adding to anyone's record collection. It won't bring the Gallaghers any new fans, yet the die-hard followers will no doubt hail the return of Manchester's favourites. Oasis are back then... but have they ever really been away? Roll on Finsbury...

 

Track listing:
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) In My Mind,
9. She Is Love,
10. Born On A Different Cloud,
11. Better Man

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