Q.) What’s the difference between Oasis and Lenny Kravitz?
A.) A Mancunian accent.
Wait, that’s a bit unfair: America’s hippie-dippy retro-rocker never wrote a classic-rock rip-off/homage as powerful as those on “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?,” the 1995 album that, it has long since become clear, is the best main man Noel Gallagher will ever give us. But neither Noel nor Lenny is the least bit concerned with stretching his artistic horizons. “It’s a working-class thing… I’m not an experimenter,” Noel said in one recent Gallagherism, while in another, he noted, “I’m trying salmon, that’s as far as my interest in new things goes.”
Fair enough, mate. But if that’s the case, why the heck should we bother to buy your seventh album of alleged new material?
Blatantly unoriginal or not, if Noel could continue to deliver singles as mindlessly catchy as “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova,” Oasis would still be a guilty but genuine pleasure 17 years after it emerged during the heyday of Britpop and alternative rock. But “Dig Out Your Soul” is a plodding and lazy disc, with the rhythms too enervated to rise above the bombast of the wall of guitars, the melodic drones not nearly melodic enough and Noel contributing a mere six of the 11 tunes. (Brother Liam’s three are, as has often been the case, eminently dismissible; the same is true of Gem Archer’s sitar-decorated “To Be Where There’s Life” and, sadly, “The Nature of Reality” by bassist Andy Bell, who proved as guitarist and co-leader of the late, great Ride that he was capable of infinitely better than this tossed-off blues stomper.)
What does that leave us? Well, we can assert that “Dig Out Your Soul” is a (slightly) better disc than the other three Oasis has given us in the new millennium, but that certainly is damning with faint praise. We can play the laughable lyrics game. (“Love is a litany, a magical mystery”; “Gotta get me a doctor with a remedy/I’m gonna take a walk with the Monkey Man!”; “I hear your soul song singing from a fire in the sky.”) Or we can count the references to the boys’ heroes. (The riff from the Doors’ “Five to One” pilfered for “Waiting for the Rapture”; the John Lennon sample in “I’m Outta Time”; the “White Album” vibe of “(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady”; the “Dear Prudence” coda in “The Turning.”)
Then again, we could just admit it isn’t worth the effort, since Oasis itself clearly can’t be bothered to break a sweat on our behalf.