Big Brother - 2002 - 42 minutes

There was a time when we admired the cocky Liam Gallagher, proudly self-titling Oasis as "the best band in the world". Then we began to sneer as "the best" began to fade like the sun they had lyrically worshipped since the beginning.

Their 2000 release 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' didn't stand that well at all, preceded by one crisis after another, including the exit of band members Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs (guitar) and Paul 'Guigsy McGuigan (bass). A stronger Oasis was expected, after the previous disappointment of 'Be Here Now' (1997), but it seemed the rollercoaster had passed its peak.

'Heathen Chemistry' is the new formula Oasis. Liam comes up trumps with some valuable songwriting and there are worthy additions from new members Gem Archer and Andy Bell - meaning that Noel can concentrate on producing stadium-filling songs, like during the good old days.

'The Hindu Times' - rolled out to radio in March - created a sense of relief among anxious fans and hinted of glorious things to come. Oasis were in vogue again and the music had everything to do with it. 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' is a powerful anthem that you'll be singing and waving to in that 'Wonderwall' way.

So, what about the other 9 tracks? 'Heathen Chemistry' is an album of variety and class with solid songs from beginning to end. The funny thing about Oasis is that they're competing against themselves and their fantastic early material most of the time. Put that aside and receive these tracks for what they are...accomplished, stylish and convincing. Liam's 'Songbird' is 2 minutes of tambourine-and-guitar-driven bliss and Noel's 'Little By Little' is testament to his superior vocal and lyrical talents which have been lost in previous efforts.

This album gets even better towards the end. Appreciate the diversity in Noel's accolade 'She Is Love' and understand their inspirations in 'Born On A Different Cloud' - but don't expect them to better the golden days. They've been dragged down by physics but, for now, the chemistry's almost right.

David Byrne

Tracklisting: The Hindu Times - Force Of Nature - Hung In A Bad Place - Little By Little - Songbird - Stop Crying Your Heart Out - Jam Out - All In The Mind - She Is Love - Born On A Different Cloud - Better Man