Album: Oasis

Don't Believe the Truth, BIG BROTHER
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With Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis continue to claw back some more of the ground lost with the abysmal Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. Though hardly a great leap forward, it sees the Other Three taking up the songwriting slack with greater confidence than before.

With Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis continue to claw back some more of the ground lost with the abysmal Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. Though hardly a great leap forward, it sees the Other Three taking up the songwriting slack with greater confidence than before.

Of course, Noel's still responsible for the meat of the album, his five songs effectively rehearsing routes out of the Beatles cul-de-sac he's explored so thoroughly already. The single "Lyla" is a drab plodder, even ignoring the similarities to "Street Fighting Man"; and "Mucky Fingers" is too blatant a pastiche of Dylan and The Velvet Underground to succeed on its own terms, with Noel's whiny, Dylanesque delivery of lines like "I know you think you deserve an explanation of the meaning of life" coming across more like The Barron Knights than an authentic folk poet.

But elsewhere, he's discovering more workable options. "The Importance of Being Idle" finds him trying on his Ray Davies/Steve Marriott hat, with a slice of British vaudeville pop and an engagingly demotic lyric ("My girlfriend told me to get a life/She said, Boy, you lazy") that's the most genuinely enjoyable thing Oasis have done in years.

There's a fair bit about "soul" on this album, which seems odd, as it's always been the thing most conspicuously absent from Oasis's music. "I'm having trouble finding my soul in this town", claims Noel in "Part of the Queue". Liam, meanwhile, claims elsewhere that he's "gotta show you the meaning of soul", which seems a tall order for someone who, as far as one can tell, has rarely if ever expressed an interest in any form of rhythm and blues, and seems to have striven to expunge any overt emotion from his singing style. Certainly, there's precious little of the quality in question involved in "The Meaning of Soul", which zips by in a little over 100 seconds.

Liam's pleasant acoustic strumalong "Guess God Thinks I'm Abel" is better, punningly pondering the drawbacks and benefits of sibling rivalry; but his "Love Like a Bomb" continues to mine the band's thick vein of Beatles sounds. While it's generous of Noel to spread the songwriting duties around a bit, he appears to have ensured that he's surrounded by deputies who are just as in thrall to those 1960s influences as himself. Andy Bell's "Keep the Dream Alive" is another chunk of droning Beatlesque psychedelia, likewise Gem Archer's "A Bell Will Ring".

So there are no real, decisive shifts in emphasis or direction here, no hints at exciting future possibilities - but perhaps it's unrealistic to expect them from such a conservative band. Don't Believe the Truth isn't so much a makeover, more a restoration job designed to bring a little lustre back to familiar but tarnished features.

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