There’s a lot of shit written about Oasis. Here’s some more.
To be fair, you’ve probably already made your mind up where you stand with regard to a new Oasis record. Supporters of their early work will almost always be keen to test the water. Anyone else either gave up long ago or has turned their mild indifference to full blown animosity probably involving themselves in a spot of internet warrioring along the way.
So fans read on, otherwise check out the new Abe Vigoda for a source of genuine new inspiration…
If you’re still with me, and yet to hear, Dig…, you’re in for a perplexing yet rather fine surprise, for while the record fails to break any new musical boundaries – again, don’t believe what you read about the band discovering unchartered territory – what it does represent is the sound of Oasis at least mixing it up a bit. For want of a better analogy this is Standing On The Shoulder of Giants Mk II – but way, way better.
For a start there’s no piano-laden stadia calling card ala Don’t Look Back In Anger/Stop Crying Your Heart Out. There’s no trad yawnfest with Noel sounding like he’s got the hump (Sunday Morning Call/Little By Little). And there’s only one song which carries all the hallmarks of the ‘Oasis Sound’ (Lyla/Hindu Times/Roll With It) – lead single The Shock Of The Lightning.
Instead, there’s 11 tracks, of which big Gallagher sings three, little Gallagher writes three and new boys Gem and Andy Bell contribute one each, so similarly to their last outing Don’t Believe The Truth, Dig… feels more like a democratic affair – and yet musically it is incredibly disparate. Incredibly.
Adding to the intrigue, is the fact that Dig… is the sound of Oasis rooted ever more to the past but desperately in search of the new, reminiscent of another band which is as admired, adored and mocked for it’s love of then and now – the Brian Jonestown Massacre: a band Oasis shared stages with during early tours of the US.
Exemplifying this point accutely is the Noel-led (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady. As a self-confessed superfan of all things Neil Young, there couldn’t be a track more in debt to the broken genius that is On The Beach. All honey-slide out-thereness, slinky steel guitars and crunching beats it’s a brilliant update of For the Turnstiles with added touches of now.The feet on pebbles outro is a cute touch.
The same applies to the glam-stomp chugger Bag It Up – itself a winning alternative to the stodgy Force of Nature – as Liam’s winning rattle adds the necessary spittle-induced punch that Noel lacked, with tasty lyrical treats, ‘The freaks are rising up from the floor…I’ve got my heebie-jeebies in a little bag,’ thrown in for good measure.
The retro ripping reaches its apex on the Gem Archer-penned To Be Where There’s Life and Liam’s I’m Outta Time, two tracks the BJM’s Anton Newcombe would surely down a bottle of voddie in celebration to had he laid them down. The former – wrongly panned almost unanimously by reviewers – is a sitar groove which goes round and round to nowhereville but sounds magnificent cranked up, the latter a John Lennon pastiche – complete with Imagine piano, Beatles-treated vocals and even an interview sample of the former great tagged on the end had you not realised Liam LOVES those sixties scousers. All of which would be hopelessly naff, where it not a corking little tune – and probably the best he’s written yet.
Sadly, these are the only two non-Noel tracks cutting the mustard on Dig…. The less said about Liam’s other contributions the better, as Soldier On is akin to Roll It Over but is fittingly-named as it plods on forever, while Ain’t Got Nothin’ (supposedly about his brawl in Munich) is an abortion of a tune recalling The Meaning Of Soul but much, much worse.
The biggest disappointment, however, is Andy Bell‘s contribution The Nature Of Reality – a song about the breakdown of his marriage. After the reasonable Keep The Dream Alive and blockbusting Turn Up The Sun, both from Don’t Believe The Truth, anticipation about the former Ride man’s contribution in this camp was high, but it’s hard to see why Nature… was included at all, for all it amounts to is an inconsequential, ambling dirge with a neat Helter Skelter guitar lift. Complete bummer.
Thankfully where the run-in feels more like a slump, Dig, also contains the finest opening Oasis setlist since Morning Glory; with The Turning, a psychedelic snorter with gothic choral effects and the deceptively neat, Noel-falsetto adorned Waiting For The Rapture completing a triumphant eight track flourish. Yes, eight decent tracks.
But, there’s one missing. And what a one.
When it comes to Oasis, you’re either a Noel fan or a Liam fan. You can’t be both. Well, you can, but ultimately one brother is your brother of choice. Up until Dig…, I’d have opted for Liam. Every. Single. Time. But Falling Down, is Noel’s trump card; the winning ace, the reason why he should write 90% or more of Oasis’ output, the reason why, while Liam is the gladitorial hero, Noel is the emporer overseeing the empire.
Falling Down is Noel’s baby: he wrote it, he sings it, he brings something to Dig… that the whole LP lacks – a bonafide futuristic edge, a meaty experimentation and most of all, a track which will slot alongside any Oasis top 10. A Best Of Track.
Looping beats, vibrating, treated strings, winning lyrics (I tried to talk to God to no avail, calling my name from out of nowhere, I said: ‘If you won’t save me, please don’t waste my time,‘), Eastern harmonics and subtle yet chainsaw-effected guitars. It’s an astonishing tune.
Astonishing is a word these days, you rarely associate with Oasis, and for those who turned off their Gallagher brothers radar around Be Here Now, one they’ll never have thought possible again, and for that Dig deserves your attention.
For fans of: Circular saws, Give It Back!, Cough syrup.
Hear Dig Out Your Soul in full here.