Graded on a Curve:
Oasis,
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

I’m of two minds about Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, which many consider the crowning glory of the 1990s Britpop movement. On one hand I can’t help but bask in its bold strokes, symphonic sweep, and big, soaring anthems. On the other, there’s this nagging voice in my head that tells me it’s a stellar example of cocaine-induced grandiosity, and all sound and fury signifying nothing.

On this 1995 LP older brother/songwriter Noel Gallagher eschewed the rawer sound of the band’s debut Definitely Maybe in favor of a slew of pumped-up arena rockers, and in so doing produced the biggest–both in sonics and sales–album to emerge from the Cool Britannia movement.

Gallagher’s formula was simple; he took a cue from McDonald’s and supersized everything. The key world is swelling, and the results sound just swell, that is unless you’re of the opinion that (What’s the Story) is all steroidal bravado and no content.

And I can understand those people who have come to the latter conclusion, because Gallagher doesn’t really have much to say. The lyrics are crap; they sound like placeholders for some real lyrics Gallagher was simply too lazy to write. He goes heavy on catch phrases, cliches, and the like, and comes up with more than his fair share of howlers; “Slowly walking down the hall/Faster than a cannonball” will stand forever as one of the dumbest couplets in the history of Western Literature.

But in the end I say to hell with the slipshod lyrics and simply revel in these soaring anthems to nothing: “Wonderwall,” “Champagne Supernova,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and “Some Might Say” may not mean much of anything, but rarely have a bunch of empty gestures sounded so inexplicably… sublime.

And Gallagher does come through with some lyrics so dumb they’re great. “So I’m gonna start a revolution from my bed/Cause you said the brains I had went to my head” may not be Shakespeare but it’s both refreshingly self-deprecating and funny, while “Please don’t put your life in the hands/Of a rock’n’roll band” actually makes good sense coming from these rock and roll decadents, whose notion of a wholesome breakfast involved sprinkling cocaine on their cornflakes.

Every song on (What’s the Story) packs a visceral punch, and goes to your head like a champagne supernova (whatever that might be). Some smack you upside the head with rock and roll (e.g., “Morning Glory,” “Roll with It,” “Hey Now!,” “Hello”), while others eschew guitar pyrotechnics for rousing choruses and Mantovani strings, but they all boast a populist wallop guaranteed to leave the ears of the kids in the back row of Knebworth ringing.

And populist is the proper word; Blur and Pulp may have been your thinking geezer’s Britpop bands of choice, but Oasis spoke to the yobs and the lager louts who said to hell with irony and probing social analysis in favor of a band that gave voice to all of the inarticulate yearnings of their hearts.

From the piano that opens “Don’t Look Back in Anger” to the epic choruses of “Wonderwall” to the crescendo of “Champagne Supernova,” (What’s the Story) traffics in bedsit transcendence, and no matter how hard I try to dismiss the album I keep coming back to the hard truth that I get off on its overblown sound and crass melodramatics.

For all of its faults, (What’s the Story) made people feel something. And that something is glorious. So call it bloated or overreaching or even overrated, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than caught beneath its landslide.

Where were you while we were getting high?

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text