Love him or hate him, no-one can deny Liam Gallagher’s huge impact on British music as the bombastic and controversial frontman of Oasis, one of the most successful bands in recent history. ‘I’m Outta Time’, one of the few songs written by Liam, on their final album Dig Out Your Soul, is one of my favourite tracks from the band, and showed real potential for his musical future. But since the group’s explosive split in 2009, Gallagher’s work in Beady Eye has been met with lukewarm reactions, both critically and commercially. The Mancunian singer has called this album his ‘last chance to really make music’, so can his solo debut capture some of the magic of his Britpop heyday?
The answer, thankfully, is yes. Named after his sign-off on Twitter, where he is as notoriously blunt and out-spoken as ever, As You Were is an honest and no-frills tribute to Oasis and the Beatles that’s hard not to enjoy. Gallagher’s voice sounds better than it has in about a decade, retaining that unique and mysteriously appealing quality that makes ‘Wonderwall’ so catchy. Working alongside songwriters like Andrew Tighe and Greg Kurstin (who’s worked with Adele, Sia, and the Foo Fighters, among others), he has produced twelve simple songs of punchy rock ’n’ roll and sing-along ballads that would be at home on any previous Oasis record.
TWELVE SIMPLE SONGS OF PUNCHY ROCK ’N’ ROLL
Opener ‘Wall of Glass’ is an album highlight, with a rollicking harmonica and electric guitar intro described perfectly by the man himself as an ‘absolute stomper’. Songs like this, ‘Greedy Soul’, and ‘You Better Run’ show some Nashville and blues rock influence and got my head nodding pretty quickly. On the flipside, you have recent single ‘For What It’s Worth’, a soft apology song from Gallagher that is essentially diet ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’; while it might not eclipse that classic, it’s still one of the best ballads he’s ever sung, and incredibly catchy. Songs like ‘Paper Crown’ and ‘Universal Gleam’ are some of the best of the album, dialling back the distortion to highlight Gallagher’s vocals.
‘For What It’s Worth’ is a lyrical highlight in addressing Liam’s controversial past, but most of the album’s lyrics are very standard rock fare and disappointingly predictable (bar the bizarre Brexit observation ‘what’s it to be free, man? What’s a European? Me I just believe in the sun’ on ‘Chinatown’). However, ‘I’ve All I Need’, written solely by Gallagher, is a lovely album closer, containing the line ‘I hibernate and sing/while gathering my wings’, inspired by a Japanese banner in Yoko Ono’s New York flat, and encapsulating the album’s sound as a loving and open tribute to both Gallagher’s time in Oasis, and to his biggest inspiration in John Lennon.
As You Were is in no way an experiment or a risk for Liam Gallagher – it’s an album full of songs that sound almost familiar, they’re so derivative of Oasis and their influences. But Gallagher has made it clear that he wants to revive the sound that made him famous, and that he loves doing it, so is that really a problem? Maybe what the music industry needs right now is a shot of adrenaline in the form of an abrasive and charismatic Mancunian, playing good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. I’ll certainly be keeping my beady eye on what Gallagher does next.