Pop music has always run in cycles, so after bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam dictated that classic rock values and star-tripping were things to be sneered at, it was up to Oasis to make flamboyant, arena-friendly music and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll chutzpah fashionable again. Like the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and U2, this British group has never made any secret of its quest for world domination.
With that goal now seemingly well within its grasp, Oasis is raising the stakes with its most bombastic and boldly personal effort yet. "Be Here Now" finds songwriter Noel Gallagher and his singing sibling Liam unabashedly laying claim to the pantheon of rock greats, while wistfully reflecting on their own long and winding road to stardom.
The first track and single, "D'You Know What I Mean," sets the tone with a muscular, guitar-drunk, neo-psychedelic arrangement and spiritually yearning lyrics that allude to the Fab Four and Bob Dylan. Here and elsewhere, the taut pop craftsmanship that distinguished previous Oasis hits is less prominent.
Instead, numbers such as "Fade In-Out" and "All Around the World" fold subtle melodic hooks into lush, dense arrangements that build and linger hypnotically, as Liam lends his distinctively raw, keening voice to such concerns as the ephemerality and absurdity of fame.
That's not to say this is the work of self-pitying rock idols. Tunes like the buoyantly anthem-ish "Stand by Me" and the tenderly accessible "Don't Go Away" brim with the sort of effervescent warmth and grace that made Oasis pop contenders to begin with. In the tradition of their idols, these blokes have made an ambitious reach without losing ground.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).