Review Summary: Their middle album... for better or for worse.
'Nanos Gigantum Humeris Insidentes (Dwarves Standing on the Shoulder of Giants)’ is a life-affirming metaphor which, in this case, can easily be applied to the music of Oasis; them being the dwarves and a band... let's say The Beatles being the giants. Although the genre of 'Rock-and-Roll Rock' may have hit the ceiling well before 2000; making it highly difficult for 21st century dwarves to climb atop the shoulder of the hunching rock giants, Oasis certainly had the ability to stay firmly perched and, during this album in particular, even made enough room for a little progression upwards.
The first two Oasis albums are generally regarded as 90's classics and their final two albums are still highly respectable among many. This apparent symmetry within Oasis albums can strongly suggest that this offering, being their middle album, is their worst. Not true. I would certainly go as far as to say that out of the three middle albums in the Oasis cannon, this is their strongest. Needless to say, however, this album is certainly not without its flaws.
The bona fide groove of the opener '***in' In the Bushes' is phenomenal and, for Oasis, highly original; unlike anything they've ever done before and after. Undeniably reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, the dirty drumbeat and ravenous, hard rock riffs make way for an interesting sample. The industrial flare operating 'Gas Panic' with particularly powerful processed guitar sounds in the second verse and chorus is definitely a step in the right direction; a step Oasis unfortunately never further initiated. Unafraid of dabbling further into Psychedelia, 'Who Feels Love' comes across to many as a successful, albeit highly predictable psychedelic anthem, with the genre's mandatory attributes appearing such as sitars, drum loops, backward guitars etc. The first Noel-sung song on the record, 'Where Did It All Go Wrong?' is a contender for the best song on the album, with Noel's emotive factor far surpassing Liam's whilst he lyrically tackles the disadvantages that fame can produce. Another contender is the lead single 'Go Let It Out' with another drum sample and a merry-go-round-esque chorus with a simple and cogent message. Noel's vocals also appear on 'Sunday Morning Call' which is a sturdy and mature power ballad, although this song is evidently rather hit and miss among certain fans, much like the rest of the songs on the record.
If not initially put off with the title, the slightly promising beat and bassline in 'Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is' ultimately tunnels into disappointment with repetitive and weak lyrics. Liam's written song 'Little James', for all its personal novelty that I share with a fellow Oasis fan, is also lacklustre. Rhyming 'James' with 'same', 'toys' with 'noise' and, worst of all, 'song' with 'mum' truly burns out any intended meaningful sentiments. The predictable 'I Can See a Liar' comes dangerously close to that cliché word "filler" and 'Roll It Over' is far too slow-burning for comfort. There is, however, the context that two of the band members hastily left prior to the recording this album, leaving Noel to record almost everything on the record on top of Noel's then-recent drug-induced panic attacks and subsequent relinquishing of drugs.
In the grand scheme of things, this album is not the bloated mess of 'Be Here Now' nor is it 'Heathen Chemistry', as at least some of the non-singles on this album are listenable and interesting after the first listen. This is their middle album... for better or for worse. Rather than standing on the shoulders of their influences and climbing higher, Oasis are somewhat firmly balanced on the shoulder which ironically, is the result of an unbalanced album. With many songs conquering some original territory, giving Oasis a strong slice of creative integrity, this progression definitely prevents Oasis from slipping and sliding off the shoulder but with many bland and mundane songs, this prevents any proper ascent, resulting in an interesting, although ultimately, inconsistent album.