Definitely Maybe

Not Rated

Not since the smiths has an Anglo act shaken significant Stateside action. And that's a shame. For while the current cadre is more defiantly British (e.g., insular, cocky, ornamental) than ever, they're also keenly fab.

The countless Yanks who never grokked the giddy theatrics of glam will find Dog Man Star revolting. But for jean genies who cream over Bowie's Aladdin Sane, it's very nearly the Second Coming. Madly making like David, London Suede's Brett Anderson emotes ecstatically, and Bernard Butler lays down lustrous doom guitar. Rushing, with splendid haircuts, to the apocalypse, these brass-knuckled poseurs pause even so to mourn for Jimmy Dean ("Daddy's Speeding"), to rip off Byron and to evoke Marilyn ("Heroine"). Smashing or what?

Suede's ultrarivals Blur are a sunnier lot. And for Suede's wondrous moody drone, this crew exchanges crazed stylistic variety. Songs echoing '80s synth pop ("Girls and Boys"), Ray Davies ("Tracy Jacks") as well as the Walker Brothers and even music-hall sing-alongs make Parklife a carny ride through the theme park of classic Brit pop. Teen-dream cute and insufferably gifted, they're prime fodder for idolatry.

Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher — whom the UK press, pissing off hippies, has compared to Lennon (a fate that, American style, befell Cobain) — has God-given cool. And with his brother Noel supplying him with sumptuous rockers (their echoing production recalls the Beatles' Revolver), it's easy to see why this quintet is next year's model. Heavier on guitar than Blur or Suede, they're the simpler, catchier outfit. And with youth's blithe arrogance, they see the world solely in black and white: "Rock 'n' Roll Star" (cool), "Married With Children" (cool's antithesis).