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Standing On the Shoulder of Giants

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Album Review

Since Noel Gallagher plays most of the parts on the album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants isn't really the debut of the new, post-Guigsy/Bonehead lineup, but it is clearly the beginning of Oasis, Mark II. Such a grandiose statement may imply that it's a clear break from Oasis' past, yet that's hardly the case, since many signatures are still in place — strummed acoustic guitars, big hooks, undeveloped lyrics, familiar rhymes, and a gigantic wall of sound. The arrangements are every bit as detailed as Be Here Now, but they're clearer and better focused, since Oasis' brains weren't clouded with excess and hubris. Ironically, this is also their most overtly druggy, psychedelic release to date — Gallagher and Mark "Spike" Stent spent endless hours adding Mellotrons, swirling guitars, and vague dancefloor ideas borrowed from the Chemical Brothers and the Charlatans UK, while Noel's melodies invariably follow the minor-key patterns typical of '60s psychedelic pop. Yet for all of its heavy psychedelic influence, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants is really a self-consciously mature departure from the group's usual ebullience, a deliberately mellow, midtempo album spiked with hints of big beat and electronica to prove that they're with it. This may result in the most cohesive Oasis record since Definitely Maybe, but that cohesion has come at a price. Few songs are as bracing as Noel's best work from the first three albums; not even the rockers have the giddy rush or alluring sparkle of classic Oasis. Yes, this flows well, but it's the work of a self-consciously older band and it's hard not to miss the hard rock, pure attitude, and gigantic hooks that made the group's reputation in the first place.


Formed: 1993 in Manchester, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Oasis shot from obscurity to stardom in 1994, becoming one of Britain's most popular and critically acclaimed bands of the decade in the process. Along with Blur and Suede, they were responsible for returning British guitar pop to the top of the charts. Led by guitarist/songwriter Noel Gallagher, the Manchester quintet adopted the rough, thuggish image of the Stones and the Who, crossed it with "Beatlesque" melodies and hooks, injected distinctly British lyrical themes and song structures like the...
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