The first part of this review can be read here.
Even when the album has some compositions that many years down the line have stood the test of time respectably, there are others that seem absolutely gratuitous. These include “I Can See A Liar”, a song that as one of the weakest lyrics of Noel’s career by his own reckoning, although it is quite a punchy tune and the lyrics (while unfinished) paint an interesting portrait of an Elvis-like figure “sitting by the fire/trouble in his heart, laughing as he goes into overdose… I wonder what he thinks of me”. But that is strictly a personal appreciation, and the song is not only lacking a proper development but the lyrics that are featured denote a lack of effort (“I can see a liar/sitting by the fire”). That problem is aggravated on the song “Put Yer Money Where You Mouth Is”, about as repetitious as “Roll With It” but without a nice sentiment to wash you over.
Liam’s first composition in particular showcases what little imagination the man has, with one of the most egregious “Hey Jude” appropriations I have ever witnessed. Not even brother Noel could pull it off at the end of “All Around The World”. What made him think he could do any better? Well, if we think of the reason Liam learnt to play guitar (“If Noel can I can”) then we can determine that he is not the most sensible person around. From day one, it was all a game in which he strove for recognition. It was all a matter of “If Noel does it, I can do better”. Say what you wish about Noel, he was a very talented composer, a very methodical crafter of songs. Start placing his compositions next to Liam’s and treating them as equal and acrimony is bound to start accumulating.
Still, Noel does not deserve that much praise for the songs “Where Did It All Go Wrong?” (which narrowly missed being the title of the album) and “Roll It Over”. Both compositions seem as leftovers that are presented as if they were the main part of the feast, and only the bitter lyrics have some meat. But I expect a lot to chew upon in a song by Noel, and a truly lasting taste on my mouth afterwards.
And that is the problem, really. “Substance” is the word defining their previous discs. Even “Be Here Now” promised a lot in terms of content at first, although it went too far too soon. The band had us accustomed to a degree of excellence that originated in Noel being the true conceptual chief. When it came to the first three albums, he had planned them a long time before. Oasis’ career resembled the craftiest hands of poker up until this album, with Noel laying ace after ace on the table. He had stockpiled an inordinate number of outstanding compositions – the Masterplan is truly the great lost album by the band, and that is so even when some songs like “I Got The Fever” are missing. “SOTSOG” paints a picture of a jaded composer (and a jaded band in turn) that retained some occasional bouts of vitality. But these were to become more and more sporadic and imperceptible from this point onwards.
To me, the story of Oasis ended the day this album came out. Their legacy would go no further, no matter how the band tried to revitalize itself. There was nothing left for them to show or see. To stand on the shoulder of giants was the one thing they could do to try and touch the sky again. And after that, all they could do was invite us all to “let’s us all make believe” that a lost cause was still within grasp, that it all still mattered. The shock of the lightning was to hit everybody in due time.