Oasis, Definitely Maybe
Britain's brash brothers begin their unrelenting pursuit of excess
By the mid-'90s, most Americans had given up on British rock, which we'd come to think of as the province of graveyard mope-poets, new-romantic mannequins and the floppy-hat guy from Jesus Jones. Yet when Oasis's debut album arrived on our shores, we relented, for one simple reason: Definitely Maybe didn't actually sound that British. Granted, frontman Liam Gallagher's syllable-stretching Mancunian accent was hard to ignore, but Definitely's full-bore guitars and cocksure lyrics felt right at home on American rock radio.
"Rock 'N' Roll Star," the album's playfully sneering opener, has all the power-chord prowess and big-dumb-fun lyricism of Cheap Trick, and the mid-tempo "Slide Away" could have been the token ballad from any number of late-'80s hard-rock acts. What really set Oasis apart, though — not just in America, but around the world — was that, at a time when most alt-rock bands were fretting about their integrity, Oasis wrote big, brazen hooks. On hits like "Live Forever" and "Shakermaker," they slipped into a melodic coma, refusing to emerge for minutes on end. Sometimes, this could be too much of a good thing — just about every song could afford to lose a chorus or two — but it also speaks to another distinctly American quality, one the band would embrace mightily in the years to come: An unrelenting pursuit of excess.