Liam Gallagher: British icon, polemic troublemaker and now solo artist. Slightly hypocritical of him, having always insisted that he would not go solo following the break-up of Oasis in 2009 and instead opting for his band Beady Eye, a band so completely terrible that it wouldn’t really matter how it was followed up so long as it wasn’t allowed to be the final word in Liam’s career.
In many ways, As You Were is a fantastic return to form. Whilst Liam’s vocals have retained their characteristic snarl, he no longer channels Kermit the frog with sinusitis. Where once he seemed to let his nose do the singing, Liam’s new refined tone makes for much better listening.
Where once he seemed to let his nose do the singing, Liam’s new refined tone makes for much better listening.
The song writing has also been significantly boosted from the days of Beady Eye. The decision to employ Greg Kurstin, responsible for Adele, Sia and Ellie Goulding hits amongst others, has largely proved to be a good choice. The lead single ‘Wall of Glass’ has a thunderous chorus and driving groove that makes it easily the highlight of the entire album. Other highlights include the slower ‘Chinatown’ and the chugging ‘Greedy Soul’.
However, there are plenty of shortcomings, the biggest one being a lack of originality. Influence and cues from elsewhere are obvious, one being a constant and perhaps inevitable attempt to channel Oasis. Whilst this works more often than not, it only ever manages to replicate the band’s already bland post-2000’s era material. Other echoes include a scattering of allusions to other bands, (“happiness is still a warm gun” clearly references the Beatles, as “I believe the resurrection” does with the Stone Roses). The song ‘Doesn’t Have To Be That Way’ even seems to mimic the psychedelic production and style of Tame Impala by incorporating tape delay and flangers.
The ghost of Oasis becomes hard to ignore after a while.
The ghost of Oasis becomes hard to ignore after a while. Liam and brother Noel were perhaps always two pieces of a puzzle; iconic vocals coupled with iconic songs. Instead we get what feels lacklustre, with a longing for the past. The track ‘For What It’s Worth’ even seems to address Noel and the mistakes that drove the band apart. Even the title of the album As You Were seems to look backwards to a time long since passed.
Yet there is perhaps one pitfall that dwarfs all others: the lyrics, which can be anything from meaningless and dumb to meaningless and extremely annoying. These include such gems as “what’s a European?” and “the police are taking over/whilst everyone’s in yoga”. Although no one was expecting James Joyce from the former Oasis singer, even the lowest expectations are blown to shit.
As you Were is no masterpiece, but it certainly isn’t bad. The songs that do hit the mark are exceptional, but the fact is that most don’t. Perhaps the best thing to be said about it is that it demonstrates potential: something Liam Gallagher hasn’t shown since Oasis. Watch this space.