Monday, December 8, 2008

Songs Of The Year: Oasis - Falling Down

Oasis used to be a great indie guitar band with occasional lapses into 60s-influenced Beatley mediocrity; a lot of Lydon and La's with a little Lennon. Too often this decade they've been precisely the opposite, with albums mired in mid-tempo dirge, weighed down by cod-psychedelic guitar flourishes and those inevitable fucking Beatles lyrical references (and, occasionally, a motherfucking sitar, which I am quite positive we'd all collectively agreed absolutely no one was ever to use in a popular music context ever again).

This year's Dig Out Your Soul, unfortunately, is too frequently more of the same, but "Falling Down" is a stunning exception, four minutes of rolling drums faintly reminiscent of the Chemical Brother's collaboration "Setting Sun," restrained guitar and keening strings surrounding a fragile vocal from Noel (good, though as ever, you can't help wondering what Liam might have done with it). There's a lightness of touch apparent in the melody and approach here that's missing from much of their recent output, which far too often seems phoned in according to a series of familiar templates*. OK, there's probably some "Tomorrow Never Knows" here, so it's not entirely Beatles free, but it's one of those rare moments where the weight of history, of writing Oasis songs and performing them in an Oasis style, doesn't seem to be in play, and it's all the better for it. The lyrics are utter balls, of course, but in the good way ("Wonderwall") rather than the other way ("Magic Pie").

Could just about have been a 94-95 era b-side, and you can't pay much of a higher compliment than that, can you? Know what it fades into on the next track though? A fucking sitar.

* Those templates in full:
1. The mid-tempo sludgy dirge with no discernible tune at all. Probably has (parentheses in the title).
2. The big lighters-in-the air pale imitation of Don't Look Back In Anger ballad.
3. The lead-off single that sounds exactly like the last lead-off single with an exclamation point or clumsy contraction in the title.
4. The Liam-written Lennon solo career tribute.
5. The one written by either Gem or Andy Bell that makes you wonder why Noel suddenly discovered democracy. And exactly who in Ride was responsible for all the good songs.

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