(Herald rating: * * )

Imagine the feelgood English summer that might have been: HRH's jubilee restoring faith in the monarchy, Beckham and co winning the World Cup, and right on cue Oasis deliver a triumphant album with tunes to be sung on the terraces again.

Best laid plans, eh wot? Oh well, like the cup squad, it is surprising that team Gallagher have made it this far, considering.


Hopes weren't exactly high for this album after their previous alleged return-to-form Standing of the Shoulder of Giants. And just as England fans tried to invoke the spirit of 66 - the last time England won football's holy grail - the band still seem dead keen on showing how much that year's biggest team in British pop means to them.

The best of the worst offenders being (Probably) All in the Mind , sounding like a half-remembered version of the Beatles' Rain and other languid-harmony songs of a similar ilk. And when they're not rewriting the Fabs, they're getting it second-hand - second track Force of Nature pinches lyrics off Crowded House's Weather With You over a T-Rex beat.

Otherwise, its the Oasis-business-as-usual album. Which means quite a few all-in big strumming rockers like opener The Hindu Times, a couple of ballads like the Lennonesque Liam-sung Stop Crying Your Heart Out and the Noel-sung sludgy Little by Little as well as the summery, sentimental, Paul Weller-ish She is Love.

Liam's songwritng contributions, Born On A Different Cloud and Better Man, are improvements on his previous attempts, but keep demand for that solo album well at bay. And Hung in a Bad Place, the track penned by guitarist Gem Archer manages to connect Oasis-rock with those swaggering, R&B-powered garage bands snapping at their heels.

Otherwise, Heathen Chemistry is the sound of a band who have had their moment simply getting on with it as best they can - which isn't that great.

In the match between the album and the diminished expectations placed upon it, a nil-all draw.

Label: Big Brother/ Sony