It was October 1995, and the newborn genre Britpop was at its peak when Oasis released their second album: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
The Manchester-based band debuted in 1994 with the critically acclaimed Definitely, Maybe. Their previous work placed the band right in the middle of a new musical craze, Britpop. The album went on to win Best British Album at the 1996 Brit Awards. It is widely considered the most popular expression of its genre and some of the band’s best work.
Back to Britishness
While pop musicians like Britney Spears were taking over MTV, and boy bands such as Boyzone and Westlife were on the rise, in 1994 something different was happening in the British indie musical scene.
The legacy of the UK’s biggest musical artists – such as The Smiths, David Bowie and Pink Floyd – was coming together to create a cultural movement known as Britpop (or Cool Britannia). Yet along with a new wave of pop, grunge was the real news on the scene. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were conquering the European charts, and during a US tour Blur’s frontman, Damon Albarn realized the influence grunge was having on American culture and began to fear for his home country. Albarn decided to implement an Anglocentric aesthetic in their work, and the result was a success. Britpop became a cultural phenomenon in music, art, and film. It influenced artists such as Coldplay and The White Stripes, writing an important page in UK music history.
The battle of Britpop
Oasis’s first album, Definitely, Maybe and Blur‘s third album Parklife both came out in 1994, marking the phenomenon’s start. Both records topped the charts, catalyzing the public’s attention and sparking a feud that became known as “The Battle of Britpop”.
The two bands fought in the charts and in the media, each claiming the title of “best Britpop band” with every new release. Their signature sound was a catchy alternative rock coming from independent labels. Each band added their own style to Britpop. For Oasis it was the lead singers’s Mancunian accents and their unmistakable, sharp singing style.
Loudness and big choruses
In their second album Oasis softened the dark edges of Definitely, Maybe to add a depth of layers through their string arrangements. With the help of the London Symphony Orchestra, the listener appreciates the pop sounds and different instruments. The lyrics also feel more mature, climaxing in big choruses like in Don’t Look Back in Anger. The big choruses are where the record’s true power resides. Tracks like Whatever and Wonderwall have an irresistible sing-along power, which made them classics.
“Whilst Definitely Maybe is about dreaming of being a pop star in a band, What’s the Story is about actually being a pop star in a band.” the band’s frontman Noel Gallagher explained.
The band used a brick-layering production technique which makes the record sound loud. The singer’s voice is well-mixed with the instruments, the listener feels like it’s coming directly from the guitar strings.
A record that aged well
After many very public fallouts between the band’s members (and brothers) Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis finally split in 2009.
Their music influenced a new wave of bands such as Maroon 5 and Arctic Monkeys. Their songs continue to get airplay, and often make “1990’s best” charts. 25 years after its release, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? rightfully holds a seat amongst the great British records of the twentieth century.