The story of Oasis is a story of love and abuse. Love and abuse between the Gallagher brothers at its core. Love of the Beatles and other things psychedelic-pop. Abuse of their fans' patience.

Nothing in recent years has come close to the euphoric impact of the band's first two albums, which blended classic pop flourishes with a modern cynicism. But the often moving "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" (in stores Tuesday) is a bit of a comeback, or at least a reminder of the songwriting powers of leader Noel Gallagher.

He spent the '90s making brother Liam's one-note vocals actually seem appealing, bathing them in layers of rich texture and melody. But if there is a single lesson to be learned from the band's fourth studio album, it's that sneering, shocking Liam is an unnecessary appendage. That much is clear from the album's first moments, an instrumental rich with excitement and invention built on dynamic guitar work, found voices and modern effects.

"Go Let It Out!" follows with the standard Oasis formula, which wasn't even new the first time around. But at least it shows that the band, which headlines the Universal Amphitheatre on April 9, retains some energy and flair for the memorable pop hook. It's all defiantly derivative of the band's core '60s influences but has enough of an edge to seem contemporary. Most telling are the few songs sung by Noel himself. They are unafraid of genuine sentiment, replacing Liam's now-predictable and easily forgettable sneer.


Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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