Artist: Liam Gallagher
Title: As You Were
Release Date: October 6, 2017
Label: Warner Music Group
There’s quite a lot riding on Liam Gallagher’s new solo album, As You Were.
Familial feuds and rock star mythos aside, Gallagher embodies a workmanlike ethic that makes him capable of making cogent and emotionally direct music.
After a hiatus from his first main solo project, Beady Eye, Gallagher has chosen a new avenue for his resurgence, emerging with 15 new songs like a cloaked superhero ready to save the institution of rock. On his first fully solo effort, Gallagher delivers a set of big, dynamic tunes that sound supremely confident, giving the trademark Oasis sound a modern production update and fresh approach. But this makeover, unfortunately, isn’t quite enough to mask As You Were’s true identity; that of an established artist searching hard for relevancy in a tenuous musical landscape.
Opener “Wall of Glass” crashes out of the gate with a sultry drum groove and a bold, bombastic vocal that make it a proper opener. Never one to pontificate about sociopolitical issues, Gallagher holds his own by sticking to the basics for the majority of the record, channeling his inner clairvoyant and sounding ready as ever to dispel his naysayers. “Wall of Glass” is in fact a perfect vehicle for the larger themes of this record. Longevity, identity, and stardom factor hugely into the apocalyptic wisdom of Gallagher’s narrator; lyrically and in his song choices, he is decisive and unapologetic.
Other songs stand out with carefully thought out instrumentals. “Paper Crown,” with its heart string vocal line and lilting chord changes, is one of As You Were’s strongest songs. When the drums kick in for the second verse, we’re elevated to an honest and exciting place where rock’s rule was never questioned. “For What It’s Worth” is the closest thing we get to a proper ballad, a heartfelt single replete with a string arrangement and that trademark vocal, barreling at you with a sense of commanding vulnerability that helps add to the immense production.
The album’s first side offers an impressive string of songs that fade perfectly into one another, creating a viable avenue for Gallagher’s charisma to come through. But once the novelty of “new Liam” wears off, the record feels crucially short on creative vision beyond the goal to make fundamentalist rock songs. As You Were doesn’t lack honesty, but on songs like “You Better Run” and “I Get By,” wherein the ornate production is significantly toned down, it feels like his respect for tradition trumps any chance at achieving unique expression.
Though the record has a magnetic, up-front quality that reflects Liam’s sense of artistry and there are certainly interesting moments to be heard, As You Were ultimately refrains from capturing the kind of transcendence alluded to in songs like “Universal Gleam” and “All My People / All Mankind,” instead relying on recycled tropes to stand in for inspiration. This first solo effort is certainly competent one from a verified rock god, with a strong energetic component holding it together, but throw on a classic Oasis album if it’s zeitgeist you want.
All in all, Liam and his band deliver with effective songwriting and classic arrangements that prove that the man responsible for some of Britain’s most legendary rock tunes has not lost his taste. Though nothing here quite compares to the majesty of Oasis’ early work, Gallagher is back with a vengeance, ready to pursue his vision of rock bombast come hell or high water.