They were once hailed by some as the saviours of British music; unofficial victors of the Great Britpop War; Gods to thousands upon thousands of young musicians with dreams of starting their own band. In the other corner, they were denounced as nothing more than a bunch of gobby, glorified pub-rockers. No matter where you stand on the whole Oasis debate, you've got to admire their sheer self-assurance. Seventeen years, and seven albums into their career, they're as big and as successful as perhaps they ever were - and they've managed to keep their fanbase happy throughout the years, as well as cultivating a new generation of them along the way - certainly no mean feat.
And it was certainly no mean feat keeping those fans along for the ride after the critically-panned Be Here Now (not half as bad as everyone thought) and Standing On the Shoulders of Giants (twice as bad as everyone thought). After the middling couplet of Heathen Chemistry and Don't Believe the Truth, however, Dig Out Your Soul may catch people off-guard for all the right reasons. Retaining all the characteristics of a standard Oasis album - i.e. brash guitars, loud production, more bravado than a gathering of excitable chavs outside a chipper on a Saturday night - there are moments on this album that sound distinctly un-Gallagher-esque, even though all but two tracks were written by either of the fraternal duo.
The Turning, for example - although produced to within an inch of its life by previous collaborator Dave Sardy - is a loud, midtempo downer reliant on a piano riff; (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady, sung by Noel, is a measured blues-rock stomper, and melodic closer Soldier On is a looser, less reckless offering with an almost Air-like bassline. Otherwise, though, the Supersonic vibe of Ain't Got Nothin', the pummelling Shock of the Lightning and the considered, Beatles-like (of course) clatter of Falling Down and Waiting for the Rapture are enough to keep old-timers content.
Don't believe folk who say that this is Oasis's best album - it's not anywhere close. Their best album in recent times, however? Perhaps; it's certainly their most consistent.