Heathen Chemistry – Oasis

Heathen Chemistry

Oasis

Big Brother / Epic

2002

A week ago, new Oasis controversies arose.  And you know what that means.  Time for me to pull out another Oasis album to review, thus allowing me to use this as a vehicle to speak about the news.  So let’s get to it.  First, Liam announced that he and the rest of the band are recording a new album, but it will come out under a different name – ending “Oasis” for good.  But no, this wasn’t even the important news.  On February 16, a week ago, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? received the Brit award for Best Album of the Past 30 Years.  I must say, a pretty high honor.  So, what do you think happened?  That’s right Liam Gallagher alone accepted the award on behalf of his band.  He thanked the members of his band and “the best fucking fans in the world” – leaving out the one member of the band who was the only other original member up until the end.  That’s right, he conveniently left out his brother, Noel.  But wait, it gets better.  Liam decided to prove his dickishness even more – in what I have to admit is actually pretty badass – by tossing the microphone, and the award, into the audience.  The award.  He tossed the award into the audience.  I’ll stop typing so you can think that over.

So, in honor (is there a word that means the opposite of honor that would fit in with my meaning?), of this new story, I will review the band’s 2002 album, Heathen Chemistry.  One of their more forgotten albums.  After the giant flop and subsequent huge catastrophe that was Be Here Now, Oasis suffered a withdrawal of popularity, that lasted until Don’t Believe the Truth.  Of course, this lack of the public caring didn’t stop any controversies from happening during the era of Heathen Chemistry.  This would prove to be drummer Alan White’s last album with the band, with Zak Starkey taking his place afterwards.  Then, of course, sibling rivalry came in to play.  The band recorded all musical parts, and Noel handed over the tracks for Liam to record vocals.  The release date kept being pushed back because Liam refused to actually do this.  According to Noel, he spent three and a half months “concent[trating] on his drinking habit.”  Then, the album leaked onto the internet three months before the album’s official release.  And after all this, the album was received well in the UK – but in the American market, peaked at number 23 in the charts.

Overall, the album features more of Oasis’ same genre.  The music is a mix of their Beatles-influenced classic rock and jabs at trying to be modern.  I can sum up the album in one sentence (which, I’ll do and then quickly renege on this, as it does not serve the purpose of this article).  That sentence: Oasis follows an equation based off of their first two albums to try to regain popularity.  Of course, this doesn’t work.  They come off as being insincere, and no band ever made it like that.

That being said, I like many of the songs on this album.  The band knows how to write good melodies, and interesting music.  That’s right.  I said “the band.”  Normally, Noel took up all songwriting duties (which probably led to their early success).  However, this was the first album to feature other band members writing songs.  Guitarist Gem Archer wrote “Hung in a Bad Place” and bassist Andy Bell wrote “A Quick Peep.”  Liam had more with a total of three.  So, although Noel still wrote a majority, this album marked a change in the way Oasis was run.

The worst part of the Heathen Chemistry is the lyrics.  With words like “For smoking all my stash, for burning all my cash,” “I’ll give you all the world if that’s enough,” and “When all of the stars have faded away, just try not to worry, you’ll make it someday” the band really is reaching for annoyingness and clichés.  Following through with the idea that they were just persecuting the pattern of Morning Glory, it looks like they were just skimping on words.  Sometimes these simple verses do work, though.  Liam’s “Songbird” is a simple, naive song, based around two chords, whose lyrics actually invoke childlike imagery.  I highly doubt that this was his intention.  I’m assuming that Liam just thought, “‘She’s a little pilot in my mind?’  Damn, I just created the most introspective words ever, and I am so high right now.  No matter Noel’s lyrics suck.” 

Moving on, the music is almost always extremely creative.  “The Hindu Times”  and “Better Man” rock like Oasis originally was able to.  “Songbird” and “She is Love” are both extremely catchy ballads that will easily get stuck in your head.  “Little by Little” transforms between uptempo and acoustic rock.  This latter song is actually one of their most mature songs, not completely relying on abstract, intangible ideas.  The song still does, just not as much as normal.  Other songs, “Hung in a Bad Place,” “Born on a Different Cloud,” and “(Probably) All in the Mind” are decent, normal Oasis songs.  They’re not quite filler, but bordering on it.  Lastly, “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” is one of the bigger singles off of the album.  It’s a slower, ballad which combines “Wonderwall” with “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”

Hey, you know what’s really annoying?  Hidden tracks.  Or at least the way they are hidden – after about twenty minutes of Goddamn silence.  This was the first album I ever heard that did this, bringing in the song “The Cage” after a long, long wait.  Because it was the first time I discovered this trick, my 16-year-old self thought it was a cool mixing idea.  However, now that I’ve sat through so many albums, I’ve found this to be excruciatingly irritating.  Like, along the lines of Neil Sedaka annoying (“Down doobie doo downdown, Coma coma, down doobie doo downdown”).  A list of offenders off the top of my head: Damien Rice, Kings of Leon, and even Paul McCartney (on his new Fireman album).  Even worse from Oasis though is that “The Cage” is a boring instrumental song.  It’s not even worth fast forwarding to listen to.

Nonetheless, after Heathen Chemistry, Oasis became more prominent – both in the public’s eye and the quality of their songs.  Don’t Believe the Truth was one of their better albums, and makes up for whatever this album is lacking in.  Which isn’t altercations.  The band never lacks in that.  Hell, they’re not even together any more, and they still create controversies.  Honestly, I’m still holding out with hope that they’ll get back together.  Maybe it’s because I don’t believe that two brothers that have had fistfights with each other on stage and still continued the band can hold a grudge for that long.  Maybe it’s because I’m just naive, and that I believe in ethereal ideals such as love, differences, and soul.  Or maybe I’m just like that because I’ve listened to one too many Oasis songs.

Buy This Album

Official Site

Last.fm Page

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