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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Oasis edge towards dad rock
Heathen Chemistry is the band's fifth album
Oasis still bear a resemblance to The Beatles

The heady days when the brothers Gallagher were the bad boys of British rock seem a distant memory.

Their fraternal bust-ups, celebrity marriages and bitter feuds with Robbie Williams and arch-rivals Blur are almost a page from a 90s scrapbook.

And that is even before their music gets a look-in. Oasis's new album Heathen Chemistry is their fifth to date and first in two years.

Some might say the Gallaghers' legendary swagger fizzled out years ago. Have they managed to recapture their form, or decided to radically change direction and grab a new slice of the musical action?

Stop Crying Your Heart Out made number two in the UK chart
If their comeback single The Hindu Times is any indication, the Gallaghers still have a loyal following - big enough to send them straight to number one.

The album's opening gambit is a simple but effective rock-pop song, with a distinct Eastern guitar riff making it stand out.

But the album's second taster track failed to make the top spot - heartfelt ballad Stop Crying Your Heart Out was beaten by late rock star Elvis Presley, who wrestled the record for UK number ones from The Beatles.

If this song is any indicator, the notion that Oasis have taken just too much inspiration from the Liverpool legends still will not lie down and die.

Stop Crying's opening refrain is a canny reminder of Lennon's Imagine, and the strong Born On A Different Cloud has that Lennonesque tinge - a sign that the Gallaghers have chosen to sing from a well-thumbed hymn sheet for their much-vaunted comeback.

Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher recently slated Kylie Minogue
All In The Mind and Better Man smack of short-lived legends The Stone Roses with rolling backdrops and Liam Gallagher's delivery much like Ian Brown.

The vocal spoils are shared by the two brothers on this album - a canny stroke of sibling collaboration. Noel's voice is richer, smoother and more conventional than Liam's powerful, unbridled rasp.

The younger Gallagher's wild voice lends Oasis their trademark sound. Back in 1994, he was the mouthpiece of Britpop at its brashest, and spat out some fine "lad" anthems.

Eight years on, there are echoes of those days, but there is also evidence that the Gallagher lads are slowly morphing into dads, gradually shedding that skin of substance-fuelled showiness.

Songbird - penned by Liam - is a gentle, lifting track about love with some beautiful twiddles of instrumentation, feeling folksy with clapping and tambourines.

Liam Gallagher
Has age affected their music?
The bafflingly happy She Is Love is the surest sign yet that Noel is settling into a thirty-something peace and letting it flood into his music.

But Force Of Nature and Hung In A Bad Place delve back into the book of rock, showing the days of laddish dancefloor posturing and raucous singing are not yet done.

Music has swiftly moved on since Oasis burst onto the scene, but they still have pulling power, even if it harks back to the old days.

This comeback offering suggests they resolutely refuse to reinvent themselves, and seem content with the notion of trading on what has always been Oasis - complete with the ghosts of bands past in their music.

Heathen Chemistry is a predictable formula of lad rock and ballads for big boys - with an element of middle-road softening pulling them away from their brash roots.

Age and respectability can affect even the baddest boys of rock.

Heathen Chemistry by Oasis is released on Big Brother records on 1 July.

"Hear a clip from She Is Love"
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