Liam Gallagher’s ‘Why Me? Why Not’ out September 20th.
At the end of 2017, as Liam Gallagher surveyed the success of his solo debut, he started turning his sights towards repeating the trick. It was clear to him what his next record needed to be: the same again. Classic rock’n’roll, big singalongs, a couple of ballads and, unlike his brother’s band, no one playing scissors.
Maybe the follow-up would be a little less apologetic, he said, something a little more lairy. He was on top of the world again. He didn’t need to keep saying sorry. That restoration of belief flows right through Why Me? Why Not., right down to the full stop at the end of the title.
In producers and songwriters Andrew Wyatt and Greg Kurstin, who both worked on As You Were, Liam has found foils who understand the importance of tapping into the musical landscape’s Oasis-shaped hole. Even a decade after their split,you could argue fans looking for the next best thing are the reason why punters flock in their droves to The Courteeners, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Gerry Cinnamon and DMA’s gigs.
To his fans, Liam was Oasis – get the songs and the spirit right and it’s an open goal. As it was on his debut, he sings with a renewed purpose that had been absent over the previous decade. His voice seems to swing between two settings – emotionally tender and emotionally riled. A lot of these songs
are obviously about Noel.
Who else could he be singing about with such a snarl on the glam-rocky Shockwave, with its themes of backstabbing? And who else could he be singing about with such vulnerability just a song later on the lilting One Of Us, with its “act like you don’t remember,you said we’d live forever” line?
Liam’s way of presenting the complexity of relationships with such simplicity is key. He’s rarely sung better, and the songs are a perfect fit. Once is a slow-moving anthem that sounds like Urban Hymns-era Richard Ashcroft rewriting All Around The World and, with its looming orchestra and loaded gun imagery, the title track could be his Bond theme.
Gone would be its closing credits cousin, recalling the grand strum of D’You Know What I Mean? before gently shifting into a fantastic, gospel-tinged outro. Best of all is the loose, rolling pop groove of Now That I’ve Found You, the track about mending the relationship with his daughter Molly. The chorus is uplifting and hopeful -when Liam really means it, his voice is a powerful thing.
The rockier moments here are never heavy, heavy, instead chugging along with Liam’s venomous delivery lifting them up. It is a track or two too long. Misunderstood, for example, is one acoustic-with-strings ballad too many, and the shimmying Glimmer feels like if: the end not to lend the record a glorious closer, but because track 14 is a decent hiding place.
But that aside, Why Me? Why Not. is a triumph, one that proves As You Were was no fluke and that Liam Gallagher is well and truly back on track, now officially a huge contemporary solo star.
Look out at his gigs and you’ll see kids singing these words back to him.
The voice of the last generation is a voice of this one too. Why him? Who else. ****
REVIEW BY NlALL DOHERTY IN THE CURRENT ISSUE OF Q.