Oasis: Heathen Chemistry

Oasis: Heathen Chemistry

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Oasis

Album: Heathen Chemistry
Label: Epic

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If a savvy TV producer ever decided to base a reality show on Oasis' Gallagher brothers, it might give The Osbournes a run for its money. Liam and Noel are always zonked, belligerent, or some combination of the two, and putting the camera on either brother always results in instant comedy. Their pre-linguistic quarrels probably wouldn't even need to be censored to become broadcast-presentable. The Gallaghers basically guarantee entertainment these days, except when they make music. But on Heathen Chemistry, Oasis—now featuring Andy Bell and Gem Archer of Ride and Heavy Stereo, respectively—sounds more spirited than it has in a while. That doesn't always translate into a great album, much less one worthy of the band's first two efforts, but even those who gave up on Oasis during the first Clinton administration will find it tough to deny that Heathen Chemistry has its highlights. "Little By Little," for example, initially sounds like Noel made an unfortunate trip through Pink Floyd's back catalog, but it quickly switches back to the sound of classic Oasis. That might be a calculated move—much of the album seems like an overplotted comeback attempt, shameless Beatles-isms and all—but the effect remains almost the same. Though still providing the lion's share of the songs, Noel has developed some democratic tendencies: The band as a whole is credited with production, Liam takes three songs and doesn't embarrass himself, and both Archer and Bell chip in, although the latter's brief instrumental number hardly counts. As always, it's best not to focus too much on the lyrics (such as the head-scratching "Force Of Nature" couplet "If what you seek is a wise man's treasure / you know it's buried beneath your feet"). Still, those who are already fond of the band, and who go into Chemistry with a proper sense of lowered expectations, should leave entertained. Whether the Gallaghers will ever release another album worthy of their rock-star-size personalities, however, remains to be seen.

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