90s Score: 7.5/10
2016 Score: 8/10
I was introduced to Oasis, one of my favourite Britpop bands, the year their second album was released. Though I was young, I have since harboured an immense love for them. In 1995 their album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? skyrocketed the Liverpool boys to an iconic, “Wonderwall”-on-repeat level of success. That single got so popular that many are ashamed to even claim a liking for the band, and question whether the rest of the record was any good. The thing is, it wasn’t good at all…it was brilliant!
Yes, “Wonderwall” was a big hit. Yes, it was played all the bleedin’ time. Yes, I could probably go the rest of my life without hearing that track ever again. But the rest of the record is solid as all hell. Even my five-year-old self knew that, which is why I stole the record from either my sister or my mom and I still have it, too. It lives in my car, ready to be played at a moment’s notice on a long drive. I can’t believe I am about to say this, but the record is so good that I understand why Gallagher got high, went nuts, and called Oasis “bigger than The Beatles.” (Calm down there, children. I said I understood it, not that I agree. Just because you’re from Liverpool, talented, and seeing immense success, doesn’t mean you are the next Fab Four.)
Let’s break it down. The first track starts off with a right-speaker, low start. The chords to “Wonderwall,” the album’s infamous single, play softly, only be to cut right off by the distorted riff of album opener “Hello.” It is an abrupt change-over, a technique that works best when the song is fantastic enough to deserve that attention. “Hello” is one of my favourite tracks by the group, and it highlights the depth of lyrical contribution that these boys offer. Liam Gallagher’s whine is the perfect companion to the sound that comes from his brother Noel’s guitar. With the media coverage of the two’s disputes, it’s easy to forget the other members, but the simplistic yet effective drumming from Alan White (who debuted on this album), the steady and constant bass by Paul McGuigan, and the distorted but stable rhythm that Paul Arthurs keeps on his guitar are the perfect background for the chaos that lays on top.
“Roll With It” is a bit of a filler track for me, but it works as a nice transition from the opening track to the infamous single. This track is one of six that became singles, and I can see why; it is catchy and almost mindless. However “She’s Electric,” the ninth track on the album, is a far better option for an upbeat, optimistic, fun track. It’s got this Monkees vibe to it that I really love, and I would have loved to hear it get more airplay than it did. That happy silly song, and “Some Might Say,” a track that almost didn’t make the cut for this album, are my standout tracks. “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” the album’s fourth track, is another. There is this realism in it that picks up the pace and the mood with a level of cynical hope that is kind of perfect. The lyrics are incredible and stand out. This song really highlights Gallagher’s voice, and how he reaches moments where you can hear the emotion grip at you. It’s frighteningly captivating.
I purposely waited to talk about this one. We all know what is coming, right? “Wonderwall” is surprisingly different this time around. Maybe it is because I’ve been so jaded about it. After years of dreading it on the radio, I realized that… well, fuck, it is a good song. Yeah, the hype might be exaggerated, but there is reason for the initial hype. It is a beautiful song. The acoustic guitar is somber and sweet and because of that, the long notes of the Liverpool whine vocals stand out starkly. The backing vocals are delayed in coming it, which makes their entry at the end a really subtle change to the repetition.
Oasis is a cross between The Beatles and The Sex Pistols, and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? showcases that. The whole record is a constant fight between the slow and the upbeat. Songs like “Cast No Shadow” or “Wonderwall” fight for the slower depressed side with drawn-out chord work and highlighted whiny vocals, while other tracks like “She’s Electric” and “Some Might Say” bring you right back up into the positive and puts a bounce into your step. That’s why this album is so fantastic; it is balance that caters to both sides of your emotional scale. It commiserates with you when you are down then gives you a boost.
I highly suggest you check this record out if you haven’t already, because balance. That’s why.
Written by Danielle Kenedy
*edited by Kate Erickson