by Ryo Miyauchi Kicking the Canon Music

Oasis | Definitely Maybe

November 7, 2020
Credit: Big Brother Recordings Ltd.

How lucky would one be to have the opportunity to listen to Definitely Maybe while remaining blissfully ignorant of the very inflated egos of both Liam and Noel Gallagher? Their public personas make it rather difficult to conceive of Oasis as not just nobodies, but as the outright losers they are represented as on “Rock ’n’ Roll Star” — its chorus hinges on that idyllic notion, but while Liam screams “tonight, I’m a rock ’n’ roll star,” he’s ultimately anything but. Modesty, however, was never part of the band’s mode, as they made clear from the outset that they were and would always be the loudest voices in the room — if not through their stadium-ready hooks, then via their overblown production that took inspiration from noisy, washed-out shoegaze peers on the Creation label. Every sound, from the wailing guitars to the pounding drums, swells to subsume Liam’s voice as everything floats around the same ear-shredding sonic levels, bleeding into white noise in a way not dissimilar from any My Bloody Valentine song on Loveless. Even the music video for “Morning Glory,” the title track to their sophomore album, acts as a succinct representation of the sheer volume of their music: scenes inside their London flat are warped and distorted, like looking through a rear-view mirror with the bass trembling on the car stereo, and fed-up neighbors knock on their doors yelling at them to keep it the fuck down.

And indeed, that video’s reverie works as a fitting image for the group in general: while outsiders unsuccessfully tried to shut them up, the four men of Oasis asserted their prerogative to make-believe and cosplay as their British pop heroes in the comfort of their own living room. Definitely Maybe finds them performing handed-down riffs as if they’re trying on their idols’ songs for size  —  “Cigarettes & Alcohol” lifts its main guitar lines from T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” —  and workshopping their own nonsensical lyrics about drug-fueled escapades, organized into simple, elementary rhymes: Liam delivers lines like “I’m feeling supersonic / give me gin and tonic” as if it’s the most cocksure expression of bravado. They attempt to learn in real-time how to perform like their icons (mostly before they’ve actually grown into the part themselves), and their process of self-realization evinces no doubt in their own abilities, but is instead driven by the absolute power of self-belief. “Live Forever” thrives on this particular high, the band titanically gassing themselves up enough in magnitude to almost sell the emotional depth the track dreams to have. Oasis is very clearly consumed by their own illusions of grandeur on Definitely Maybe, and yet their youthful, rock ’n’ roll-spirited fantasy lands too powerfully to ever question their claims to such glory, all while their braggadocious naïveté remains too pure to ever bring them back to reality.


Part of Kicking the Canon – The Album Canon.

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