Long-awaited solo debut fails to leave much of a mark...
'As You Were'

One thing you could never accuse Liam Gallagher of being is boring. As Oasis’ lustre faded, he was still snarling away in the centre of the stage honking out his vocals like an irate seal forced to pass some brutal kidney stones. That band’s elongated death rattle under the name Beady Eye ensured that Gallagher could remain the iconic frontman, even if the songs were like the Shine compilation series having an extreme anxiety dream. Their inevitable conclusion prompted a few years of taking stock and regular jogging, occasionally breaking cover to give some dependably quotable interviews. However, this first attempt at a solo album is, against expectations, disarmingly tepid.

The production is oppressively bland, squashing layers of sound into polished submission. An attentive student of the complete works of Oasis has ensured that a variety of nods are made in the direction of Liam’s band life. The plaintive string effect from ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ comes to mind during the otherwise unremarkable ‘Bold’, while the howling harmonica on ‘Wall Of Glass’ and ‘Greedy Soul’ neatly reference moments from that mid-Nineties hot streak. The former is one of the stronger tracks here, unsurprisingly deployed as the first teaser track, but the latter is vacuous filler with only the faintest hint of a chorus.

On a couple of tracks, it feels like Mark Owen is trying his hand at another indie album after 2003’s not entirely awful ‘In Your Own Time’. It is seemingly the result of what might charitably be described as some vocal treatment applied across the record. Certainly, the verses of ‘Come Back To Me’ sound almost nothing like Gallagher and on several other songs he appears to have rediscovered a higher range that hasn’t been present in live performance for many a year. Still, sounding like a former boy-bander looking for credibility by pretending he’s in Oasis is one thing but, at other points, it’s like Liam is trying to indulge the same fantasy. The mid-paced filler of ‘Heathen Chemistry’ and ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ is evoked by ‘I Get By’ and ‘I’ve All I Need’.

‘Chinatown’ is enjoyably ludicrous, with plucked acoustic and a sparse backdrop decorating verses of near-gibberish. The presence of the word ‘neuroses’ affords the second most Liam delivery on the record, closely behind ‘paraphernalia’ from ‘Wall Of Glass’. Experience tells us all that trying to offer much analysis of the lyrics will be a fruitless task, but all the usual clichés are in there, nestling up close to a fresh pile of non-sequiturs.

Over-produced but under-written, the combined cast of co-writers and producers have failed to knit together a cohesive whole. Plenty of these songs are pleasant enough, but there’s very little to mark an artist in their prime. All the fight, the attack and the passion are dimmed by their surroundings. Liam Gallagher may well make a great solo artist, but ‘As You Were’ sadly does little to suggest it will be any time soon.

5/10

Words: Gareth James

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