- 03 Oct 19
The Mancunian Candidate
Liam Gallagher is worth a hundred acoustic troubadours and a thousand identikit careerist combos. Where others are scared to utter a syllable lest they offend, our man is never backward in coming forward with a – frequently hilarious – opinion. He’s also blessed with an incomparable set of pipes and was a very large part of what made Oasis - at their best - a very exciting rock n’ roll band. He’s great value live too. True, the set is better when he’s revisiting the good old days, but that star power is still there. He has presence his brother would kill for, and you know Noel’s probably thought about it. He’s a handsome bastard and all.
The trouble is that his material has often let him down. Beady Eye weren’t exactly The Clash and 2017’s solo debut As You Were, despite bothering a fair few cash registers, trailed off a fair bit after the big-booted single ‘Wall Of Glass’, rising again, slightly, for the Plastic Ono Band-isms of ‘For What It’s Worth’. Album #2 kicks off in similar style with head shaker(maker) single ‘Shockwave’, a John Lennon sings Slade-style stomper. ‘One Of Us’ is a melancholic love letter to, if not brotherly-love , then at least the times when they could stand in the same room without throwing chairs at each other. It boasts a fine chorus and the late entry backing vocals lift it further. ‘Once’ is another worthwhile look in the rear-view mirror, another big arm waving Oasis-like ballad, and no one has ever got more mileage out of the word “shiineee-a” than Gallagher the younger.
The rest of the record is variations on these two themes. It’s stronger overall than As You Were although it’s still a bit too in thrall to Gallagher’s old band – ‘Halo’ is a second-cousin of ‘Mucky Fingers’ - and his Liverpudlian heroes, especially on the descending chords of the title track, named after two Lennon drawings that hang in Gallagher’s gaff. The lyrics rarely stray from the kind of Moon in June-isms that even his brother might baulk at, although he’s no stranger to the odd clanger either. His missus is his “halo ‘round the sun”; he’s “banging a gong”; he warns “don’t put your love on the run, when you’re staring down the loaded gun”. He also observes, sagely, that “the changes keep changing” – you get the idea. That being said, ‘The River’ has a nice bang off it as does ‘Be Still’ which half borrows the guitar riff from Springsteen’s ‘Downbound Train’, and the widescreen ‘Gone’ is worth a go too. That spoken word section is a bit of a surprise but at least he’s trying something different.
There’s nothing bad here, and the faithful will eat it up, but it does dip after that strong start, and there’s not much that we haven’t heard before. Gallagher offers advice to those who “want to break the chains from your past life”. He should heed his own counsel. That voice deserves it.