Pitchfork: 4.7 Rolling Stone: 3.5/5 Metacritic: 64 Spin: 91
Released: May 2005
Turn Up the Sun
Love Like A Bomb [LISTEN]
The Importance of Being Idle
The Meaning of Soul
Guess God Thinks I’m Abel
Part of the Queue
Keep the Dream Alive
A Bell Will Ring
Let There Be Love
I understand that there are good-natured, respectable music listeners out there who think Oasis is a load of crap. But when it comes to the largely underrated (in America) band, I’d agree with the sentiments of Liam Gallagher: They can go fook themselves, d’you know what I mean? I was turned onto the band by a friend at the end of the 90s, right as Oasis was reaching the end of their Britpop-music-dominated rope (a movement they tried to disassociate from, and also one which meant nothing to me in my middle school days). The end of the 90s unfortunately also saw the end of any solid albums to come from the band (until 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth).
Oasis’ previous two albums, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants and Heathen Chemistry, while both containing a few gems, failed to capture a cohesive body of work or even sound from the Gallaghers (now joined in the band by guitarists Gem Archer and Andy Bell, replacing two others….2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth also saw the introduction of drummer Zak Starkey, son of Ringo). The album was hailed by many as a return to form for Oasis, their best effort since 1995’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (though I personally find Be Here Now and Morning Glory the two definitive Oasis albums. But Don’t Believe The Truth offered hope…that they hadn’t dried up and forgotten how to make great music. This seems due in large part to the amount of collaborative songwriting that went into the record, two of its best songs attributable to Liam, as opposed to a number of records that were helmed almost completely by Noel.
The album opens curiously with a song by Andy Bell, “Turn Up the Sun”, though Liam makes it all his own, his voice of nails a commanding presence, just as it was in Morning Glory’s opener “Hello”, Be Here Now’s “D’You Know What I Mean?”, Heathen Chemistry’s “The Hindu Times”, and most recent’s Dig Out Your Soul’s “Bag It Up”. It’s a relatively simple rocker, aside from an impressive, almost Western-influenced guitar solo to close out the song. Noel’s “Mucky Fingers” is next, a powerhouse of banging guitar and at times, harmonica solo. Upon first listen I was weary of the yet unheard Oasis sound it put forth, but soon warmed to it as simply another song they can do well.
Single “Lyla” is next, and while by no means a bad song (it’s quite good), I found it a bit generic, not showcasing other talents I knew they were capable of that the public needed to hear (talents found right there in other songs on the album no less). Then, pardon the pun, but dropping like a bomb, is Liam’s “Love Like A Bomb”, a quick, storm of a song, built on a fast-paced strum, Liam’s vocals, and a likable melody. What really drives the song home, though, is its piano-layered bridge instrumental (played on tour by a guy who looks like John Lennon), and some well-placed “Na, na, nah”s from Liam. This song dominated my summer in Maine, 2005.
Noel’s “The Importance of Being Idle” (great video featuring Rhys Ifans by the way) offers a change of pace and sound for the album, drawing inspiration almost from an old Western cowboy pub. A whistle and tambourine signal a raucous insrumental jam even before the halfway mark, and Noel’s falsettos serve to aid the twangy (and catchy) vibe. “Guess God Thinks I’m Abel” is another gem from Liam, and the most acoustic on the album. With light percussion and a simple guitar strum carrying the song, he sings, “I could be your lover, you could be all mine/ We go on forever, til the end of time.” After bridging into “No one could break us, no one could take us if they tried” a few times (with “Aaahh”s in the background not too dissimilar from The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” bridge), the song ends on a few unexpected and crashing final chords.
Closing song “Let There Be Love” is the masterpiece of the album, a masterpiece of their career even I’d argue. The third song in their history to feature the singing of both Liam and Noel, it’s a classically beautiful ballad, only with more backbone. It opens simply enough with light piano and guitar fare to a very successful four-chord progression, Liam’s vocals piercing the empty space with lines like, “I hope the weather is calm as you sail up your heavenly stream/ Suspended clear in the sky are the words that we sing in our dreams.” The chorus borrows from the verse, changing only a single chord (but it’s kind of monumental) as Liam sings the simple heart of the song: “Let there be love” (four times). Noel enters in on the bridge, aided by some claps and an array of instrumentation, fading away to what seems like a finish, until Liam comes back in with another verse and chorus, this time the emotions embellished with added percussion, strings, and some kind of woodwind. After another trick ending, all instruments come crashing back in a guitar-driven end to the song and album (video below a shortened version).
I get why some people haven’t embraced Oasis. It’s the same reason not everyone embraces Coldplay or even, The Beatles…anything that’s touted as that good…must not be. And understandably, some of the greatest songs from these artists, great as they may be, have been overplayed to the extent that it starts turning one off to the repetitiveness of it all. But for those who can dig deeper than the radio, there’s a whole lot Oasis has to offer (radio songs included). If it’s the shoddy personalities of the Gallagher brothers that distract your listening, fall in love with the music first, then warm up to the Gallaghers. Most everyone’s been acquainted with the early heyday of Oasis, and Don’t Believe the Truth is a good place to start.
Bonus Track: Unreleased instrumental (almost) track from Oasis, recorded during the same time as Don’t Believe the Truth