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Standing on the Shoulder of Giants

Standing on the Shoulder of Giants

"Fuckin' in the Bushes," the leadoff track from Oasis's fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, represents the modification the quarrelsome quintet attempted this time around. It's a sonic collage of found sounds and psychedelic, wah-wah guitar, an instrumental that catapults Oasis from side one of Revolver to side two in the two and a half years since it released its last album. The trippy guitar and extended jams sporadically pop up on the remaining nine songs, but after dispensing with that mind-expanding opener, Oasis pretty much settles into the Manchester retro that has been its sanctuary for a large part of the '90s. And it pretty much sinks that new-millennium giant with its heavy-handed approach.

Be Here Now, the 1997 follow-up to the breakout (and marvelous) (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, suffered from being both musically trivial and ideologically stubborn. Standing on the Shoulder of Giants has similar problems. At best, a third of its songs leave any sort of impression; the rest just sort of spin in place, as Liam Gallagher drones his way through brother Noel's derivative songs (and one of his own, a sappy valentine to his wife and her son). And when all else fails, Noel piles on a barrage of guitar squalls that breaks down any semblance of order that Giants may have had. By the end, Oasis provides very few new sounds, resolving instead to make a rock and roll album that's ultimately numbingly tiresome, even if it starts out just fine.

The twisty "Fuckin' in the Bushes" is proceeded by the paisley-hued "Go Let It Out," a smorgasbord of '60s musical memorabilia that slips in a mellotron, a spacey drum loop, and even a bit of sitar. It's the band's most melodically ambitious song (although there's something more appealing about the eloquent simplicity of "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova"). Unfortunately, that creative surge is absent throughout the remainder of Giants. The closing "Roll It Over" is one of those long, plodding opuses with choir that's supposed to close an album like this, and it does play its role relatively well. Plus, it features Noel's most George Harrison-like guitar solo to date. Which is probably all Oasis could ask for, at this point in its fixated and stalled nostalgia trip. -- Michael Gallucci

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