Liam Gallagher isn’t fucking around on As You Were, and it shows.
In the last week of September 2017, a video emerged on the internet with Liam Gallagher lamenting the sorry state of a modern rock stardom when he was forced to make his own cup of tea at what appeared to be a backstage green room or press junket. His tongue-in-cheek rant was laced with F-bombs in a fowl-mouthed, brash style that’s now become both signature and liability. It was delightfully reminiscent of a time when rock stars were arrogant beyond measure and their music had the weight to back it up. Similar expressions of the demise of guitar rock were made just a few months earlier by Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain when their own comeback album was about to drop. In retrospect, their fairly mediocre record came out and largely failed to deliver on the promise of a return to the good old days of loud guitar noise and speaker-destroying aggression. As the media has found out time and time again, however, both Gallagher brothers have a tendency to talk big and can be counted on to at least mean what they say. Liam Gallagher isn’t fucking around on As You Were, and it shows.
In many ways, the record could be mistaken for the best Oasis record in years but for his brother Noel’s absence. There is no shortage of drama surrounding its release considering that Noel’s own solo release is coming out just a month down the road. The brothers being notoriously competitive, one can only imagine that if Noel’s record is half as good as Liam’s As You Were, it’ll be a year for the resurrection of rock ‘n’ roll.
“Wall of Glass” kicks off the record with loud rocking guitar and blues-influenced harmonica the way only the British can make it wind. From the first five seconds, it sounds as though you’ve come in at the crescendo of the song and there wasn’t time for an intro. It’s sets a tempo for the rest of the record that doesn’t let up. Sure, there are a few missteps—the somewhat boring “When I’m in Need”, for example, but they’re easily forgivable given a generous 15 tracks. Without these little breaks, the constant buzz of it would be too much Gallagher to handle. As it turns out, “Wall of Glass” is not only the kickoff track but one of the most deep-hooking and repeatable tracks on a record full of great music. Convenient for the people who keep restarting. “Greedy Soul” has elements of contemporaries like Jake Bugg—a comparison which would likely enrage Liam but nevertheless stands. It’s just as easy to say both artists are borrowing from the Beatles playbook while drenching the music in layers of harmonies, high-tempo baselines and Liam’s unmistakable nasally wail. (Look out for the reference to “Helter Skelter” on “You Better Run.”)
Part Primal Scream, part White Stripes, “Greedy Soul” sways through themes of descent presumably into hell. “Paper Crown” takes on a much more Top-40-friendly ballad style reminiscent of “Wonderwall” but not quite meeting the same high bar for sticky melodies. It’s hard not to think he’s reaching for exactly that on this track, produced by 10-time Grammy Award nominee Greg Kurstin who’s resume boasts Foo Fighters, Sia and Kelly Clarkson. It doesn’t end there, though. Other parts of the record are produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat (Keane, Lana Del Ray and Moby). “For What It’s Worth” reaches a hook-level on the chorus which one can easily imagine becoming one of the first singles.
It’s hard to imagine this record doesn’t become a hit which launches Gallagher back into the spotlight even outside of his association with the mammoth name of Oasis. In many ways, this is Gallagher recalling the power of “Supersonic” and “Slide Away.” It’s as though he’s forgotten or ignored everything that’s happened in the intervening years and genuinely wants to recall the energy that started his career in the first place. When Liam says his solo record is going to be fucking amazing he can be taken at his word.