With his third solo album the younger brother is still laying claim to being the iconic singer/attitude/haircut of a generation
It wasn’t so long ago that Liam Gallagher was looking like the washed-up second fiddle to his tune-cribbing elder brother, seeing his own ambitions crumble with Oasis Mk II (Beady Eye) and their lack of tunes or traction. It seemed that Gallagher would go the way of so may of his ’90s peers, lost in the solo wilderness, descending into a twilight existence of legacy-shaming political views, narcissism and conspiracy theory twaddle.
But here we are, with album three and Gallagher (the middle-aged ‘mad ferret’) seems to be in fine fettle, still laying claim to being the iconic singer/attitude/haircut of a generation. (Or, as some might say, the sneery, sweaty bloke in a parka shaking a tambourine.) He’s content to be seen as a rebellious personality, where sticking two fingers up to ‘the man’ and ‘keeping it real’ have become his modus operandi in perpetuating the glory days for himself and his fans.
Such is his devotion to rebellion that he’s back with tune-writers to the stars (Lady Gaga included) Andrew Wyatt and Greg Kurstin to fashion similarly melodic stadium-orientated shout-alongs while he provides the aphorism-laced words to wrap his enunciated (and auto-tuned) vowels around. So far, so far from punk.
Recorded remotely due to the pandemic, parts were sent back and forth for their master’s approval and vocal contribution before being mixed. Not ideal for someone like Gallagher, who thrives better in a band situation and telling that he should bow so readily to record company influence with an almost casual disregard for the music he might want to make. It almost makes you wish for an Oasis reunion… almost.
Life moves on for most, unless, like Gallagher you’re stuck displaying a monotonous range of limited influence (Beatles/Rolling Stones) where flowery, psychedelia and syrupy melodies serve as window dressing rather than anything of the writer’s personality for which they are so famed.
Starting ominously with a children’s choir (so far, so You Can’t Always Get What You Want) on opener More Power, with its psychedelic touches doesn’t really go anywhere; an intro looking for a song. Diamond In The Dark is in thrall to The Beatles’ Day In The Life, going so far as to crib some of the lyrics – “now I know how many holes it takes to” – and comes over like late period psych-pop Beck. Don’t Go Halfway is yearning to be something The Stone Roses would reject and can’t decide whether to rock out or cop out. Too Good For Giving Up sees him go ‘full Lennon’ in this aping ballad in the vein of Imagine. Not even the addition of a negligible Dave Grohl on drums on Everything’s Electric can elevate this beyond a chorus with some drums.
It Was No Meant To Be and World’s In Need are lightweight acoustic-based strummers that are so top-heavy with trite lyricisms (“love that never dies”, “all I wanna do is run away with you”, “sail the seven seas”) that make (the unfortunately titled) Moscow Rules limp lyrical stab at surrealism (where “empty seat stare back across the table”) seem almost puddle-deep.
The irony that his care-free simian stroll has apparently resulted in the need for a hip replacement could be seen as a medical metaphor for his relevance some 25 years since his heyday. C’mon You Know’s problem is that, after the initial bluster of his two preceding albums, it just sounds distinctly pedestrian, complacent and reflective. The addition of wisps of trippy phasing, looped drums and a diversion into dub (eek!) all add up to songs that seem just a bit too contrived and calculated to really feel like he ‘means it man’.
Gallagher has threatened to make a Stooges-like album full of raw power (ahem) and less polished radio-friendly tunes, which would suit his vocal style at least, as long as it’s not Iggy Pop-lite and has something of his own in there. Let’s hope he keeps good to the promise. With two dates at the iconic Knebworth incoming this summer, for now his dogged followers will surely be lapping this out of their bowls.