1994, Music

Definitely Maybe (1994) by Oasis

Loud electric guitars had been missing from British radio for a long, long time by the early 1990s. With the exception of U2 and the Smiths and a few other bands, there hadn’t been much popular guitar-based music for much of the previous decade. And when guitar-based music appeared, it often had synthesizers, gated drums and other instruments to make the music sound “modern” and basically nothing at all like the rock music of the past. (Evena guitar-based band like U2 relied on technology to make their music sound less like the rock music of the past.) This is my theory why so many people thought Oasis were some kind of breath of fresh air, or well-needed corrective, or whatever. The grunge thing hadn’t happened in the UK, and so they were sorely in need of guitar-based music (apparently), so desperately in need of it that this very average band became one of the biggest bands in the world.

As you can tell, I don’t like Oasis. I think they are one of the most overrated bands of the 1990s and I can’t really figure out why everyone loves them so much. The best I can do is resort to theories like that above, in trying to explain why a rock band with not great songs, a pretty derivative sound, and a tendency for not actually sounding that loud (on record) could capture the imaginations of so many people.

But I must say, of all their albums I’ve heard so far, this one is the best. It’s the best because, unlike Morning Glory, it isn’t neutered by its production. And unlike Be Here Now, it’s not interminable – though it’s still unnecessarily long, of course. (It wouldn’t be a ’90s album without too many songs.)

These songs are not great. I don’t know why so many people think Noel’s a great songwriter. But I think it’s really Liam that rubs me the wrong way on this one – I will never love his voice. The band plays the songs as if punk, post punk and alternative – the last 17 years or so – don’t exist, or barely exist. But at least on this record you can hear their muscle, and you are less likely to mistake them for Jam/Kinks wannabes.

It’s competent. It’s well made. I still don’t like it. And I will never like them. I need a musical tonic after listening to them. Give me some post hardcore, stat.


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