Review Summary: The Importance of Being Oasis
Don’t Believe the Truth marked a point in Oasis’ career where they became a serious and exciting band once again. Things would never be the same as they were in 1995 – “You’ll never change what’s been and gone”. The group survived and thrived on the colossal success of their first two albums which ultimately proved to be a double-edged sword. On one side it meant they became superstars and reached a massive audience who remained loyal and filled stadiums on tours that supported 3 disappointing albums – records that witnessed the group crumbling and stumbling halfway into the millennium. But on the other side it meant that Noel Gallagher’s initial writing streak set a benchmark so high that Oasis would never be able to reach its lofty heights again. The band needed to mature and stop clawing after past glories, and in short Don’t Believe the Truth is the first time that the band sounds truly confident, fresh and believable since those treasured glory days.
In all aspects – melodically, lyrically, production-wise – the album shines far brighter than its past few predecessors. The band had not produced a song as lushly rolling and sugary sweet as ‘Love Like a Bomb’ or ‘Turn up the Sun’ in a long time; nor had they knocked off a stadium raising mid-tempo rocker such as ‘Lyla’ in as long a period. ‘Lyla’ is not far from sounding like an updated, pristine rendition of the Rolling Stones ‘Street Fighting Man’, and whilst it may never be as exciting or original as its inspiration it is certainly as catchy and stoically performed, with pounding drums and a growling vocal performance from Liam Gallagher. ‘Mucky Fingers’ has a plodding garage rock vibe that also reaches back to the 60’s unabashedly and rolls along very capably; as does the plucky ‘Meaning of Soul’ which seems to blend the Stones and the Who into a brief 1.45 spike of fun.
‘The Importance of Being Idle’ deserves special mention however, as it is not only the standout track on a very solid album, but the best song Noel had written since the mid-90’s. Sounding unlike any Oasis track that has appeared before or since, Noel is at the height of his songwriting powers here and reminds the world he is still an expert at his craft, if only far less frequently these days. Melodically the track is as infectious as a common cold – surf-esque guitars glisten with the warmth of beach-side sun and the lyrics are humorous and memorable. Noel’s voice effortlessly floats into a falsetto then back down to the gritty “I can’t get a life if my heart’s not in it” chorus coda, followed by a sharp and swaggering electric guitar stutter. ‘The Importance of Being Idle’ is perhaps the first number 1 single Oasis earned on songwriting quality rather than the security of a massive fan base and promotion since the mid-nineties, and deservedly so.
The second half of the album isn’t bad either – a little less dynamic and exciting than the first side but far more consistent than its recent predecessors. ‘Guess God Thinks I’m Abel’ isn’t as interesting as its intriguing title may suggest but is too pleasant to criticise harshly; the same goes for ‘Part of the Queue’ with its choppy rhythm. ‘Keep the Dream Alive’ and ‘A Bell Will Ring’ are arguably the weakest efforts on the record – the former meandering on for a touch too long whilst ‘A Bell Will Ring’ is blandly presented and doesn’t feel as considered as the rest – filler in other words. The slight dip in quality is redeemed by closer ‘Let There Be Love’. A spare arrangement finds the Gallagher brothers dueting – the song really coming into its own by the time Noel’s superior vocals (at least by this point in Oasis’ career, and given the style of the song) arrive, making for a simple but charming ode to that classic go-to song subject, love.
Don’t Believe the Truth was the dawning of Oasis in the 00’s. Trapped by the clumsy excess of 1997, the misguided experimentation of 2000 and the banality of 2002, this 2005 offering finally saw a band come to grips with its past and present. An air of comfort and keen awareness of their maturing position in pop/rock is the most revelatory thing here, and the bright, dynamic and catchy tracks shine when the band creating them has finally cut loose from the rock tied to its ankle. Put simply, Don’t Believe the Truth is the first Oasis record since Morning Glory that is worth a listen outside the legion of devout fans, and proves that the band still deserve a place in the pantheon of modern pop/rock even if they will never be as thrilling as they were in the mid-nineties.