I’ve always had a bit of an ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ opinion of Liam Gallagher. He just seems like such a miserable prick who doesn’t understand how to interact with the world in any way other than being a complete asshole. Granted, because of this I haven’t exactly followed his career very closely, so maybe he’s had some redeeming things to say about someone somewhere, although I’m not too confident in that possibility. Here’s a fun read detailing a long list of insults he’s dished out to undeserving (and in many cases, more talented) musicians over the years, including the likes of Kieth Richards, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan. And of course, then there’s the historic feud he’s kept up with older brother and former band mate Noel Gallagher since presumably the exact second he was born. My favorite (or favourite if I’m gonna’ be all British about it) example of Liam’s Noel-bullying was when he bailed on an MTV Unplugged performance an hour before they went on and proceeded to drunkenly heckle the band from the balcony.
Despite these and a hundred other reasons not to give a single manky crumpet for the guy, I finally found something positive to say (he also seems to hate America, although I guess I don’t entirely blame him for that one). Liam’s new album, As You Were, is actually pretty great (*caugh* *hack* *dryheave* *gasp for air* Ugh, there, I said it).
Noel had always been the primary songwriter for Oasis, and this is Liam’s debut as a solo artist, so I honestly didn’t have high expectations for this release. I decided to check it out because it seemed a little unfair to completely write the guy off without even giving his work a chance. Admittedly, I kind of hoped that it would suck, and I’d have another reason to not give a shit about him. Much to my dismay, As You Were holds up to every standard that an original Oasis album would’ve, in all its classic Britpop grandeur. It’s loud and energetic at times, soft and emotional at others, and steadily precise throughout. “Universal Gleam” cultivates an engulfing environment with multiple layered parts wrapping the listener in a colorful (sorry, colourful), sunshine-y aura of sound, while “I Get By” chugs along in a 3/4 time signature with pounding snares and a constant strumming guitar part as Liam sings of the trials of love. The lyrics throughout the album seem poignant and sincere, and at times even a bit cheeky.
The pre-released singles are the strongest pieces on the album (For What It’s Worth, Wall of Glass, Greedy Soul), but only by a small margin. The album as a whole is consistently interesting and engaging, and a full listen from end to end illustrates a larger narrative in just the way a good album should.
As much as I hate to offer Liam Gallagher praise and add clout to his already over-inflated ego, I have to give credit where it’s due. I now find myself re-categorizing him into that small place in my heart wedged between a distasteful, exasperated contempt for his personal qualities and an undeniable respect and appreciation for his talents as an artist (see Kanye West, John Mayer, Jared Leto). I disagree with the social connotation that talent excuses asshollery, but at some point you just can’t argue with someone who talks shit and backs it up.
Well done, Liam, but you’re still a prick. Check out As You Were below.