Album Reviews

Liam Gallagher & John Squire – Liam Gallagher John Squire

(Parlophone) UK release date: 1 March 2024

Drenched in the warm glow of nostalgia, this meeting of the Oasis singer and The Stone Roses guitarist will appeal to anyone still wishing it was the early-to-mid-’90s

Liam Gallagher John Squire The two most influential bands to come out of Manchester over the past thirty years were undoubtably The Stone Roses and Oasis. Two bands inextricably linked together and fuelled by creative tension between their two main figures, which meant that both bands shone bright but also burnt out very quickly.

Despite the fact that their recorded output amounts to just a handful of albums (and arguably only three classic records between them), their reputations have remained undimmed through the years – it’s not unusual at an Ian Brown or Noel Gallagher gig to see teenagers singing along to songs released years before they were born.

And so a collaboration between Liam Gallagher and John Squire seems destined to excite an awful lot of people. The fiery guitar genius behind the Roses meeting the iconically sneery voice of Oasis – and, unlike Squire and Brown or the Gallagher siblings, they actually seem to get on. What could possibly go wrong?

The bluntly titled Liam Gallagher John Squire will appeal to anyone who still wishes it was the early to mid ’90s. It is exactly how you’d imagine a collaboration between the two to sound. At times, you may find yourself checking whether this is one of those Artificial Intelligence projects that goes viral occasionally. If you ever found yourself wondering, for reasons that may be best to kept to yourself, what The Seahorses second album would have been like, then step this way.

It is certainly Gallagher’s best record since his Oasis days – although, admittedly, eclipsing Beady Eye is a pretty low bar. Squire’s influence can be heard on several tracks, although you do find yourself wishing he could let himself off the leash a bit more at times. Only during the outro to Just Another Rainbow do the guitar pyrotechnics really explode.

The album is mostly filled with low-key blues workouts – Raise Your Hands makes for a fine, swaggering opener, a big indie-rock anthem designed to make arenas and stadiums sway. That’s followed by the ’60s tinged guitar pop of Mars To Liverpool, which may have nonsensical lyrics, but is blessed with a huge chorus that Gallagher really gets his teeth into. Yet there are far too many times on the album that the term ‘non-descript’ may seem a bit kind.

Although Squire has written all the songs for this album, they were obviously designed to be sung by Gallagher, who sometimes does his old trick of sounding like he’s just singing whatever’s coming into his head. I’m A Wheel even quotes Star Wars for no reason whatsoever with a line of “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” while Love You Forever is simply Liam singing how he’ll love someone forever while Squire knocks off quasi-Jimi Hendrix riffs in the background. Oh, and he also sings “I feel fine” presumably because the album didn’t include enough Beatles references.

The main problem with Gallagher-Squire is that it all sounds a bit lazy and predictable. You get the impression that they know this too – there’s even a track called Make It Up As You Go Along, and that’s indeed what the song sounds like they’re doing. By the time I’m So Bored comes along, with Liam whining that “I’m so bored with this song” you begin to wonder whether this isn’t all some giant post-modern wink at nostalgia culture. And if you’re not tired of jokes about how The Beatles could be the only band that Liam Gallagher has ever heard of, this album will provide plenty of material: a track called Mother Nature’s Song and the opening riff to I’m So Bored sounding like a weak copy of Paperback Writer.

It’s frustrating because Squire, in particular, has famously pushed musical boundaries in the past. The magical Fools Gold still sounds like nothing else on earth, while the extended coda to I Am The Resurrection has the power to raise goosebumps, even over thirty years on. And when Gallagher puts his heart and soul into a song, as on Slide Away or Champagne Supernova, the results are one for the ages. There’s nothing even close to those sort of moments on this record though, with the pair preferring to play it very safe indeed.

This, of course, will mean very little to Gallagher and Squire’s army of fans – it does what it says on the tin, and is drenched in the warm glow of nostalgia. So if you’re in the mood to listen to something other than a Shine compilation, or have worn out that collection of Ocean Colour Scene B-sides, Liam Gallagher John Squire could well do the trick. For everyone else, it may be best to stick to the pair’s respective heydays.

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