‘AS YOU WERE’
Album Review (20/10/2017)
In what can only be described as one of the greatest comeback albums by an artist in recent memory, former Oasis/Beady Eye main man Liam Gallagher has returned after several years in the musical wilderness with a debut album that lives up to every iota of hype that has been drummed up prior to its release.
Right from the get-go when it was announced that he’d signed to Warner Records and was working on a solo debut critics were skeptical as to whether or not the singer – who has spent the majority of his career living in the artistic shadow of older brother Noel – was capable of releasing a full-length album of sufficient quality to propel him back to the top of the charts.
Not only has Gallagher put to rest any doubts at all, but with As You Were he’s exceeded all expectations and delivered a record that’s devoid of any pretence whatsoever. It’s an honest, joyous encapsulation of an artist who finds himself with not only an album that rocketed to the top of the British music charts in its first week but also became one of the fastest selling albums of the last two decades.
Not bad for someone who once declared he’d never do a solo album.
Screaming straight out of the gate with some wailing harp and a solid stomping beat lead out single Wall Of Glass sets the tone and the pace for much of what follows; crunchy rock ‘n’ roll guitars, plenty of swagger and that now infamous sneering voice, this is in no way an attempt to be ‘Oasis-lite’ at all. Instead, it’s an update on the sound forged over a series of albums since Definitely Maybe and yet it sounds fresh, brash and new whilst still retaining the classic retro slant of days gone by. An absolutely killer album opener that possibly alludes to the dissolution of One Direction and the reformation of the Stone Roses in the same verse:
“You were sold a one direction, I believe the resurrection’s on.
And you were wrong”
Going straight into the acoustic strumming of Bold, a song that seems to have been around for a little while now, it’s a slightly more melodic take on proceedings. A glorious, soaring piece of modern British rock with yet another addition to the quality collection of singalong choruses in the singer’s back catalogue.
Greedy Soul picks up the pace with a pile driving beat reminiscent of Get Ready-era New Order and acts as the perfect foil for the subdued gorgeousness of Paper Crown. All acoustic guitars and harmonies before the drums kick in to give it a decidedly majestic feel, it’s just one of the polished gems hidden with the albums bigger singles. For What It’s Worth sees the singer in a rare confessional mood, seemingly addressing his fractured relationships (whether the lyrics are directed at ex-wife Nicole Appleton or his estranged older brother are unclear, but they certainly have a universal theme that applies to both parties. Whomever the subject matter, it’s clear that Gallagher has indeed penned the most personal lyrics of his career and wrapped them up in a bona fide sonic masterpiece:
“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry for the hurt
I’ll be the first to say, “I made my own mistakes”
Adding a lilting waltz-time ballad to the whole affair is When I’m In Need. Quite possibly the most Beatle-esque track on As You Were (is it possible to mention either Gallagher brother without some reference to the Liverpudlian maestros?) there’s a lovely English pop quality to it until about the three-minute mark, where it takes it up a notch and becomes almost a spiritual being. Changing from 3/4 to 4/4 and featuring a beautiful choral vocal piece, it soars out into the world like the chorus of Hey Jude, minus about ten minutes. You know you’ve got a strong album on your hands when the weakest song present is Chinatown, a more stripped back number than most here and yet still that chorus shines out like a beacon into an otherwise dark world. And again there are Beatles references evident too:
“Well the cops are taking over
While everyone’s in yoga
‘Cause happiness is still a warm gun”
Universal Gleam again starts life as a banging melody that’s at least on par with the best Oasis track before metamorphizes into a massive chorus that lingers on before giving way to album closer I’ve All I Need. And just like Wall Of Glass opens the album in true style so does this one close it. A little slice of pop heaven sees Gallagher in a contented form, singing that he has “all I need and more” and let’s sincerely hope, having just turned 45, that this is the case.
Liam Gallagher has given the world not just a truly great album but also a reaffirmation that he is still on top of his game creatively. Much has been written on the subject of his collaborating with others on the songs here, and yet a quick glance at the credits shows that over half the songs here are credited solely to him. And let’s face it: in an industry where some of the biggest names to top the charts do not write one single song at all, who seriously cares? This is an album that sees the singer eschew the trappings of his previous bands and emerge phoenix-like from the ashes of the past, bold, glorious and triumphant.
Album of The Year? Album of The Decade more like.
“D’ You Know What I Mean?”
AMNplify – BD
Connect with Liam Gallagher!