Liam Gallagher likes to fight. Or, at least, that’s the idea one might get based on the last 20-odd years of the former Oasis frontman’s life. He has publicly feuded with everyone and everything, from rival britpop band Blur to passing cyclists, a Hong Kong airline and his brother and former bandmate Noel. Gallagher even disputed the very idea of releasing a solo record in one of his profanity-laced tweets, asking, “are you f*cking tripping?”
And yet here we are. Gallagher’s first solo effort, “As You Were,” debuted Friday Oct. 6 on Warner Bros. Records, nearly three years after the breakup of his last band, Beady Eye. However, despite contributions from powerhouse producers like Greg Kurstin of Adele’s “Hello,” the new album feels repetitive and uninspired.
There’s little poetry on “As You Were.” Many of the lyrics align more with the literary traditions of Seuss than Shakespeare. “Yes I know / I’ve been bold / I didn’t do what I was told,” he sings on the album’s second track, “Bold,” before busting into a bridge section consisting of the phrase “lay it on me, yeah,” repeated a dozen times.
Perhaps Gallagher can be forgiven for his less-than-stellar wordsmithing chops. After all, most of the songs he sang in Oasis were written by his brother and his distinctive nasal singing style—arguably his main contribution to Oasis—still comes through well.
Unfortunately, plain lyrics are not the end of this record’s problems. Gallagher’s sonic palette, made up of saturated electric guitars, acoustic strumming and pounding tambourine-accented drums, is consistent to the point of becoming boring. By the time the nearly hour-long album is over, it feels like you’ve listened to one long track with a few interludes.
That isn’t to say the album is bad across the board. The fourth song, “Paper Crown,” builds from a single acoustic guitar into a full-fledged rock ballad, complete with a catchy refrain and swooping vocal melodies. The psychedelic “Doesn’t Have To Be That Way” could fit in on a Tame Impala record. “When I’m In Need,” a waltz about—surprise—a girl, makes nice use of an organ and string orchestra in one of the few breaks from the album’s typical instrumentation.
“Chinatown,” the single released in June, is one of the most successful songs on the record, addressing the perils of technology and what this old-school rocker sees as a vapid modern society. “Well the cops are taking over / While everyone’s in yoga,” Gallagher wails over a plucked guitar and slowly throbbing bass drum.
However, littered between these genuinely good songs are nearly a dozen other “just okay” tracks. In a different universe, Gallagher might have culled this musical herd and released a shorter and far more listenable album. But he didn’t. Serious fans of Oasis and Beady Eye might enjoy this record, but overall it’s nothing special.
Liam Gallagher will play the House of Blues in Boston on Nov. 25 and Terminal 5 in New York City on Nov. 27.
Charlie Smart is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.