We Americans may have left the Commonwealth more than two centuries ago, but in some ways, the United States still acts like an British colony.
Take, for instance, our fascination with U.K. celebrities. Even though Oasis has never been more than a moderate success in this country, brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher have become gossip column staples, with Oasis making a much bigger splash with Liz Smith than it ever has on the Billboard charts.
"Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" (Epic 63586, arriving in stores today) is unlikely to make too great a change in that situation, but it is a step in the right direction.
Unlike the band's previous efforts, which borrowed so heavily from the '60s and '70s that they often seemed little more than classic rock rewrites, "Giants" anchors Oasis firmly in the here-and-now, giving the album a contemporaneity its predecessors sorely missed.
It isn't just that the band is borrowing less, although "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" clearly owes more than a little to the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues."
What truly sets this album apart is that Oasis seems less like a standard guitar band than ever before.
Noel Gallagher hasn't hung up his guitar and devoted himself to the synthesizer -- far from it.
But Oasis does seem to be relying more on samples, rhythm loops and the sort of sound manipulation more commonly associated with the Chemical Brothers.
There's an element of cut-and-paste to the construction of the album's obscenely-titled opening track, drum loops driving "Go Let It Out!" and an obviously mechanical feel to the beat in "Gas Panic!"
Perversely enough, these elements don't lead the band toward electronica but instead revitalize its rock and roll roots.
Perhaps because the focus is more clearly on rhythmic thrust, Oasis seems to rock harder this time out, coaxing a loose, aggressive roar from "Where Did It All Go Wrong?" and bringing an AC/DC-style ferocity to "I Can See A Liar."
Still, the band's greatest strength is in the Gallagher brothers' writing. As ear-tickling as the psychedelic gingerbread in "Who Feels Love?" may be, it's the Beat-lesesque uplift of the chorus that ultimately makes the song worth hearing.
It may not always be as interesting as gossip about the Gallaghers, but it's far more satisfying.
"Standing on the Shoulder of Giants"
Sun score: * * *