Friday, October 03, 2008

Album Review: Dig Out Your Soul


Dig Out Your Soul
Big Brother Records

Buy From Amazon: Dig Out Your Soul

It took the band ten years, but Oasis has regained their confident swagger with the heady, musical brew of new album Dig Out Your Soul. With a strong batch of songs showcasing Oasis' expanding songwriting and musical explorations, Dig Out Your Soul is a hurricane of buzzing guitar riffs and thunderous drums living in harmony with Beatlesesque sonics and head-bobbing basslines.

While not everything works, Dig Out Your Soul shows a band that's played it safe since imploding on 2000s Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, to now be rediscovering it's mojo to thrilling effect.

Rocker "Bag it Up" launches us into orbit with a propulsive rhythm that locates the groove lurking within the pounding percussion and holds on for dear life. Vocalist Liam Gallagher sneers in his best Mancunian wail: "Someone tell me I'm dreaming / the freaks are rising up through the floor / everything I believe in / telling me that I want more". The velocity of the song's rhythm threatens to careen the song right off the tracks but layers of droning keyboards slow the inertia enough to seque to the next track, "The Turning".

Bag It Up - Oasis

"Waiting for the Rapture" is one of Noel Gallagher's better tunes in recent years. A muted fuzz guitar that even Jack White would be proud of rumbles underneath the melody, creating a constant tension that is only tempered by Gallagher's soulful croon.

Waiting For The Rapture - Oasis

This appears to be the M.O. for the first four songs on the album: big, sneering rock grooves balanced with pure Manchester-approved Northern Soul.

Liam also contemplates mortality on his self-penned tune, "I'm Outta Time", and includes some sampled recordings of a John Lennon interview to maintain the Beatles fixation for the band. (Recording the new album at the Fab Four's Abbey Road studios didn't hurt the process either.)

But where in the past the band would have Xeroxed the first 5 songs for the second half of the album, Oasis break out musically and follow their sonic muse.

The Noel-penned "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady" has a bluesy back-porch stomping percussive groove and filtered vocals that make Noel sound like he's singing from a desolate telephone booth in the wee hours of the night. The sitar-ladden, Middle Eastern psychedelia of "To Be Where There's Life" employs an elastic bassline and mantra like vocals that weave in and out of the song, creating a trance like tune that will have college kids firing up the black lights and burning some crops while listening to the album.

"Ain't Got Nothing" is a punked out Liam tune that might work better live, but on record drills itself into an oblivion of noise. (This approach worked better on "Meaning of Soul" off 2005s Don't Believe the Truth album.) "The Nature of Reality" also plods along to nowhere and suffers from the band's Achilles heal of tepid lyrics.

A few stinkers aside, Dig Out Your Soul is a welcomed return to form. Minus the revolving drummer situation (Zak Starkey recorded with the band for Dig Out Your Soul, but has since left), Noel Gallagher, Gem Archer, Liam Gallagher and Andy Bell have been playing together as Oasis for 3 albums and almost ten years of live gigs, giving the new album a cohesive and confident feel in the musicianship and the songwriting.

The creative rebirth that germinated on 2005s Don't Believe the Truth is in full bloom on Dig Out Your Soul, and along with the release The Verve's comback album Forth, suddenly it feels like 1994 all over again.


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