Home Read Classic Album Review: Oasis | Heathen Chemistry

Classic Album Review: Oasis | Heathen Chemistry

The Gallagher brothers play nice on their fifth album — but it doesn't suit them one bit.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Let’s face it: Deep down, we want our rock stars to act like bad-boy egomaniacs. And for years now, the Gallagher brothers have been more than happy to fill the bill, squabbling with the press, their peers, their competitors and even themselves.

But on Heathen Chemistry, the fifth studio album from the battling brothers and their bandmates in Brit-rock icons Oasis, something weird is afoot: Liam and Noel are making nice. The most obvious sign is in the songwriting credits — Noel has relinquished his tight grip on the reins, penning only six of 11 tracks (Liam contributes three cuts and other bandmembers fill out the plate).

That likely makes for friendlier rehearsals, but doesn’t necessarily make for a great album. Indeed, Heathen Chemisty has a rather unfocused feel, with the lads just going through the motions on yet another slate of pop-rockers inspired by the usual sources (first single Hindu Times sounds like George Harrison covering Gimme Shelter; Force of Nature is Iggy’s Nightclubbing revamped by Gary Glitter, and so on). Sure, tracks like Better Man and Hung In A Bad Place (interestingly, not one of Noel’s) rock solidly, but nothing here has the arrogant swagger or incandescent spark of the band’s early work.

More often, in fact, Noel’s electric guitar seems to give way to the strummed acoustic of the McCartneyesque Songbird or the melancholy piano of the Lennonesque Stop Crying Your Heart Out. Maybe the supposedly clean and sober Gallaghers are trying to make amends for their wicked ways, or maybe they just feel they no longer have anything to prove. Either way, Liam makes it clear things are changing: “I want to be a better man,” he tells us. Well, OK. But if you guys want to be a better band, you might have to go back to acting like the spoiled brats we love to hate.