Noel and Liam Gallagher would have you believe that Oasis is the biggest, most important band in music of all time. Their constant posturing and back-patting is matched only by their off-hand dismissals of any group that might be stealing their spotlight. You could almost forgive their attitudes when Oasis was the standard bearer of the Brit-pop invasion on the backs of such solid albums as 1994’s Definitely Maybe and 1995’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?. But the band’s creative output from that point has done nothing to justify the Gallaghers’ illusions of grandeur. Be Here Now (1997) was hit and miss, and Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (2000) and Heathen Chemistry (2002) were musical train wrecks.
The music business can be fickle at best, and whether they would care to admit it or not, the Gallaghers must have known they were likely one more strike away from being written off. But they can rest somewhat easily. Don’t Believe the Truth can’t properly be called a return to form, but it’s the best album Oasis has released in the past ten years.
For the most part, there isn’t anything particularly offensive about the songs on Don’t Believe the Truth, the band’s first since Heathen Chemistry. Truth be told, Oasis has given us another album chock-full of jangley Brit-pop numbers and stadium-rockers, and the result is a formulaic rock record. The album’s only real surprise is that there aren’t any surprises. With Noel finally loosening his death grip on the songwriting duties, Liam, bassist Andy Bell and guitarist Gem Archer had the opportunity to take the band in new directions. But their contributions to the album are entirely derivative, with each of them doing their best Noel impressions.
The album does have its high points: “Part of the Queue,” with its frantic guitar strumming and infectious chorus, and “The Importance of Being Idle,” with its playful vocal delivery, are worthwhile listens. But most of the album plods along. Many of the songs are filled with pedestrian chord progressions and lazy, uninspired lyrics. The four-minute “Mucky Fingers” chugs along but goes absolutely nowhere. The stomping chorus of the album’s first single, “Lyla,” can’t save the song from being ultimately forgettable. And the English language doesn’t have the words to explain all the things wrong with Liam Gallagher writing a song titled “Guess God Thinks I’m Abel.”
The simple truth of the matter is that 1995 has come and gone, and Oasis isn’t the biggest rock band in the world anymore. Don’t Believe the Truth might be enough to pull Oasis off the brink and ensure its continued commercial viability, but the Gallagher brothers still need a reality check. Oasis isn’t going to take over the world; it’s an average band that plays average rock songs and can expect average success outside of the United Kingdom.