Sunday, 12 October 2008

Oasis, Dig Out Your Own Soul (2008)

I bought the latest Oasis album without any great hope, or enthusiasm; and both states of negative expectation were thoroughly confirmed by my listen. Choose any of the following words: rubbish, tired, old, derivative (autoderivative), feeble, uninspired, uninspiring. Chooose, if you like, all of them. The up-tempo tracks are ploddy; the down-tempo ballads are almost comically desultory and dirge-like. The whole album is bad, except for one song. And this is the puzzle for me, because the more I listen to that one song the more I come to think it's the best song Oasis have ever recorded.

The song is 'The Shock of the Lightning' (Here's the video for it on You Tube. If I knew how to embed that video in the post, I surely would). It stands out, on first listen, simply because it's got more oomph than the other, geriatric tracks, and although it sounds (like every Oasis song) exactly like an Oasis song, it sounds like one of the better Oasis songs: wall of sound guitar drone, that repeated grinding chordal progression from 6th to 7th to tonic, Liam's voice (surely one of the best rock-and-roll voices since Rod Stewart). But then, listening to it again, it started to get under my skin.

Why? The song's appeal is not immediately obvious. I like the squeeze-box way the thing wheezes from major to minor and back; and I like the way that the title is not the phrase repeated over and over in the chorus, but one once-uttered line (though the production, putting a flare of reverb on Liam's enunciation of 'shock', is a little egregious). But, that said, it's a song about shagging, as most Oasis songs are, and doesn't bring much to the party in terms of human aesthetic interrogations of sexuality. 'Come in, come out, come in, come out, tonight' really does just describe the trajectory of Noel's (or Liam's) cock: 'I'm out of control but I'm tied up tight' really does tell us about Liam's (or Noel's) tame sexual gameplaying; 'there's a hole in the ground into which I'm fallin', so God speed to the sound of the pounding' really is as vaginally-objectifying and thrusting as it sounds.

I think what has snagged my liking is its canny (or inadvertent: I don't care which) balancing of contraries. The titular 'shock of the lightning' speaks to immediacy, to the coup de foudre of sexual passion, the urgency reproduced in the music. But the chorus of the song unspools a different sense of time: drawlingly-mutating from 'it's all in my mind' to the repeated

All in good time
All in good time
All in good time

That's a nicely Ashberyan phrase: speaking both to the laddish 'having a good time' altogetherness of Oasis's core fan appeal, and to a less direct sense of the need for patience; or time as something that comes slowly to fruiton not all at once. 'Love,' the song insists, 'is a time machine'. An effectively sfnal keynote. I would listen to it again. I can't say that of the rest of the album.

1 comment:

Dermot said...

this is the first negative review ive read, good on you. your alone in youir views but it takes all sorts.