, is the fifth studio album from Oasis (sixth if you include The Masterplan
), and sounds like an album completely devoid of history and expectations--it is light and breezy and blissfully unaware of anything outside its (notably short) running time. The legendary Gallagher songwriting gland seems to have got stuck on cruise control since the late 1990s--and is focused on quality more than quantity now. There are some classic Oasis tunes here (the simple but effective "Stop Crying Your Heart Out"), yet the only song that wouldn't sound out of place on their 1994 debut
is the playful rock growl of "Hung In a Bad Place", ironically written by new boy Archer. This poses a problem--what exactly defines an Oasis song now? Written by Noel? Sung by Liam?
Fortunately, Heathen Chemistry also features some overdue Noel Gallagher numbers--the more insightful, acoustic based songs such as the standout "Little By Little" (which contains the fantastic bridge "I didn't mean, what I just said / But my God woke up on the wrong side of his bed"). Nobody, really, does it better. Least of all his brother--"Songbird" is a startlingly good acoustic pop ditty, complete with trademark handclaps that, along with the voodoo spirit of Hendrix haunting his "Better Man", shows that his songwriting has improved tenfold since his last effort, but he still has much to learn. Where Noel Gallagher really excels, however, is in the production. For the first time, an Oasis album sounds clean and crisp--not musically, but in its sonic presentation--it's a technical achievement that elevates the album significantly.
Assured without being arrogant, heartfelt without being insincere--Heathen Chemistry will delight and repel in equal measures. It's a heroic return to form--hard as nails on the outside, yet soft and romantic on the inside--like every hero should be. --Ben Johncock
OASIS Heathen Chemistry (2002 UK 11-track CD album including the singles The Hindu Times Stop Crying Your Heart Out Little By Little and Songbird) Will they or wont they? Album #6 and yet more expectation... which is met and bettered!Areally fantastic return to their early form and an album that you will not tire of picture sleeve RKIDCD25)