Review Summary: Proof that lightning can strike twice, even if it’s less shocking the second time
Oasis had been fighting a losing battle against the forces of mediocrity for half of the 00’s until 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth struck through the clouds like a warm beam of sunshine. The band seemed to let go of their post-britpop baggage and begin producing quality Oasis music again – anthemic pop/rock which always hints at the best British music from the past. The renewed sense of purpose and confidence of Don’t Believe the Truth led to Dig Out Your Soul three years later – a record that rocks harder than its predecessor and tramples over most of the band’s previous 13 years output.
Dig Out Your Soul is the leanest and heaviest Oasis record of the decade, and recaptures traces of that massive wall of guitar noise the group mastered on their first two records. Single ‘The Shock of the Lightning’ bolts forward on its rapid riff and Liam’s propulsive vocals. It’s nothing more or less than a great rock n roll track and in that sense it manages to excite and remind how rockin’ the band could still be – having been swamped by sappy ballads and limp Beatle-esque experimentation for too long. ‘The Turning’ crawls along for its first minute on a tense rhythm track and electric piano before launching into a bellowing rocker. Meanwhile ‘Bag it Up’ and ‘Waiting for the Rapture’ are the most tight and muscular the band have ever sounded musically. ‘(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady’ might be the closest the group came to creating a groovy sound, with its handclap-laced ramble, whilst ‘The Nature of Reality’ gallops along on a rattling hard rock riff.
Although most of the album is focused on muscular, riff driven rock it wouldn’t be an Oasis record without at least one softer moment, of which - 'I’m Outta Time' – proves to be one of the best in the band’s recent years. Liam’s John Lennon fascination is in full force on his double-tracked vocals, singing an extremely infectious chorus over acoustic guitar and a misty, mysterious electronic atmosphere. ‘Falling Down’ begins on a constipated scribble of electronic sounds which subtly floats behind a taught, paranoid melody, which vaguely recalls the gem ‘Gas Panic!’ but with a more angular sound. There are a couple of missteps, as to be expected – closer ‘Soldier On’ is overly familiar by the time it arrives and feels a little sparse but not intentionally, as there is a lack of a defining and memorable melody. ‘Ain’t Got Nothin’’ is solid but ultimately throwaway, whilst ‘To Be Where There’s Life’ is less fluid and exciting than the rest with its droning eastern-esque melody.
But overall Dig Out Your Soul proves to be a lean, punchy success and proved that Oasis’ comeback record ‘Don’t Believe the Truth’ was not a mere fluke. The sound here is more experimental than the group had been since Standing on the Shoulder of Giants but this time Noel has the riffs to back it up, so the record doesn’t sound as formulaic as the previous few Oasis LP’s and triumphs as such. What is left is a competent and enjoyable coda to the career of one the biggest rock bands in British music history. Not long after the record the group imploded in the only way it was ever going to – the Gallagher brothers fell out one time too many and Noel left to pursue a solo record and get away from his younger brother – a man he felt he could simply work with no longer. It’s a shame in hindsight, as Dig out Your Soul was the most promising and boisterous record the group had produced since their glory days and is more accomplished and exciting than either of the Gallagher Bro’s post-Oasis recordings thus far.
Will the band ever produce another ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ or ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’? No. It’s not the 90’s anymore and things have changed. Will the group ever reform and continue making a solid, matured version of their brand of rock n roll? Probably, and hopefully, yes. The Gallagher’s are never predictable in their behaviour – leaving amazing songs as B-sides; losing all sense of quality control to drugs, and falling-out/making-up more than a pair of angsty teenage girls – so never say never. If they sadly never reform all that will be denied is the chance for younger generations to witness one of the country’s biggest success stories roar through the classics in stadiums around the world – the rest is already accomplished. A consistently topsy-turvy career; Oasis will always be written into the history books of British pop/rock whatever happens now that it’s the 20 year anniversary of their era defining debut, which along with Morning Glory, catapulted its way into the Great British public’s heart and soul and hasn’t left since.