Better than the first two? Course not. Better than the last three?Definitely. In other words it is the record which should’ve followed Morning Glory. It slips into life slowly, deceptively, growling into a bold swagger for Andy Bell’s Turn Up The Sun. But Don’t Believe The Truth is not the Oasis we’ve come to know. Far from it.
There’s a lo-fi, stripped feel to the record which strikes you as you listen to it. Yet at the same time two years and much production has gone into Don’t Believe The Truth, which breathes harmonica solos, keyboards and extended percussion (Zak Starkey continues to drum while percussionist extraordinaire Lenny Castro guests) allowing Oasis to flex across folk, pop and psychedelia, which partly confirms the band’s heavy name checking of The Kinks and Highway 61.
More so than ever, they wear their music influences on their sleeves.Mucky Fingers borrows the chug-a-chug of The Velvet Underground‘s I’m Waiting For The Man, but lyrically (“All the phonies that roam at night / When I’ve gone yeah you look like you missed me / So come along with me, don’t ask why”) and vocally, Noel has never sounded more reinvigorated in a decade.
The cynics suggest the once great songwriter is struggling. Momentarily it can appear that Noel is at odds. He only contributes five this time, but the gems remain all his. Part Of The Queue lends more than a few nods to The Stranglers’ Golden Brown, but Noel’s redemptive words (“Stand tall/ Stand proud / Every beginning is breaking its promise / I’m having trouble just finding some soul in this town”) and performance are again on fine form. His closer, Let There Be Love, crafts a brilliant Gallagher duet, a spiritual hybrid of Live Forever and Let It Be, utterly filled with the kind soul they exported so abundantly in the 94/95 season.
The other six are no fillers either. Gem Archer has a catchy potential single in A Bell Will Ring. Keep The Dream Alive (Andy Bell) rotates loose urgency and desert psychedelia which waters into one of the most Oasis-sounding of the lot.
Liam’s three continue his surprising progression. Love Like A Bomb betrays more of the Songbird karma no one thought he could be capable of showing. Guess God Think I’m Abel, a tender tribute to Noel along the same lines as Acquiesce, bridges the record wonderfully. The thrashy Meaning Of Soul, barely two minutes long, seems to have been written shortly after Liam got his teeth smashed in Germany, but it gets better each time you hear it.
Which is very much reflective of the album. You won’t be blown away in the unique way Oasis’ first albums did. Yet with every listen DBTT pulls you in.
It’s worth remembering that it took The Beatles and The Rolling Stones six albums (Rubber Soul, Aftermath) to mature before they eventually came up with their big hitters (Revolver, Sgt Pepper, Beggars Banquet and Sticky fingers were yet to follow). A mature Oasis at the same stage claim two classic records, are off the drugs and have regained astride which maybe, just maybe, will lead to something great once again.
While that time is not now, Oasis are back, still relevant and, in Liam’s words, “still waiting for someone to take the torch.”