If it were up to Liam Gallagher, Why Me? Why Not. would not be his second solo album because, if it were up to Liam Gallagher, he’d still be fronting Oasis instead of forging a path as a solo artist. This isn’t just evident in how he continues to antagonize his estranged brother Noel in the press like a wounded animal; he’s made it clear in how much his solo career resembles a potential future for Oasis. While Noel has made a point about distinguishing his new material as something removed from what came before, Liam’s work so far shows a through-line back to Oasis, albeit with a glossy sheen that comes with working with the seasoned pop vets that helped put As You Were together. As it turns out, Liam’s stubborn commitment to a single idea of what music should be is as single-minded as one would be led to believe from reading his interviews: Why Me? Why Not. is quite similar to its predecessor, with only a few musical tweaks separating the two. However, Gallagher himself seems less tentative than he was before, and his songs here are among the most personal pieces he’s ever written.

I would say that anyone hoping for Liam to change things up on this record would be sorely disappointed, but it’s doubtful that anyone came to a Liam Gallagher expecting their musical world to be shaken up. The man has described what he offers as “meat and veg” rock ‘n’ roll, and Why Me? Why Not. suitably relies on creating a feeling of comfort and familiarity rather than anything adventurous. The songs have vague touches of psychedelia, and the album seems split between glam stompers and robust ballads designed to place Gallagher’s voice (which is still one of the best in rock) and his lyrics at the forefront. There are some superficial changes this time around: the ballads feel less like Beatles pastiches this time around, even as “Once” nicks George Harrison’s guitar tone pretty shamelessly. And while nothing on the album is as gripping as “Wall of Glass” was on As You Were, “Now That I’ve Found You” is a surprisingly bright slice of guitar pop that is brilliant for how thoroughly un-Liam it is. Otherwise, though, Why Me? Why Not. does little to subvert expectations.

Where things get interesting is in the lyrics, which are surprisingly personal while unsurprisingly pulling from the frontman’s appearances in the tabloids. Part of the sweetness of “Now That I’ve Found You” is derived from lyrics filled with unbridled paternal happiness likely inspired by his discovery of his eldest daughter. Liam and Noel’s brotherly squabbles inevitably come up, as well, but the tone that Liam takes is not one of anger, but regret. Both “One of Us” and “Once” take on a wistful perspective as Liam recalls the good times while wondering what went wrong. Inevitably, some songs rely a little too heavily on empty phrases and recycled classic rock cliches–this is a Liam Gallagher album, after all–but the personal touches help elevate the album beyond its perfunctory origins, if only briefly.

Inevitably, Why Me? Why Not. is pleasant without being particularly surprising, and it seems as if that will be Liam Gallagher’s modus operandi going forward. This is the sort of broad rock album that will certainly please anyone who’s already on board with what’s being offered with presenting little to anyone expecting anything truly new. And yeah, one could hardly fault Gallagher for sticking to what he’s good at doing, but one can’t help but think that, at this rate, any excitement generated by a Liam Gallagher solo album is on borrowed time already.

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