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CD of The Week

Week of 10/09/17

    Liam Gallagher - As You Were (Warner Bros.)

    The dust continues to settle in the post-Oasis rock landscape, and Liam Gallagher has returned with his first solo release, As You Were - an unapologetic melodic Brit rock echoing to his former glory days.

    The album opens with lead single "Wall of Glass," beginning with a wailing harmonica over steady strumming guitar. It's a song that becomes reminiscent of later Oasis tracks yet boasts a distinct charm of its own. The song deals with hidden truths and secrets, while heeding warning that the negativity you throw into the world will ultimately come back to destroy you.

    Throughout different songs, Gallagher peppers in lyrics that could be mistaken as digs at his brother and former bandmate Noel. "Greedy Soul" mentions going toe-to-toe with a greedy soul and having the Midas touch - potentially an answer to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. "Bold" even mentions one of Noel's albums by name, 2015's Chasing Yesterday, in a throwaway line "There's no love worth chasing yesterday, 'cause it's alright now."

    Gallagher is quick to call out his influences in various tracks as well. "Chinatown" throws in the line "Happiness is still a warm gun," referencing the iconic Beatles song. "You'd Better Run" furthers the homage with lyrics calling out to the Rolling Stones, Queen and the Beatles yet again. "I've All I Need" even features a line allegedly inspired by something Yoko Ono once said to John Lennon about hibernating and gathering wings.

    Sonically the album is very fulfilling and focuses on what Gallagher does best: singing catchy rock songs that incorporate traditional blues elements. The album combines Oasis-era riffs with Beatles-esque melodies and Blur-like gusto. Lyrically it falls flat at times, despite songwriting credits from Miike Snow's Andrew Wyatt (who has written for Florence + the Machine among others) and omnipresent, Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Greg Kurstin. "I've All I Need" is a song written almost entirely out of clichés trying to mimic "All You Need is Love." While it is a sentimental and pleasant song it surely lacks substance to stand on its own.

    Perhaps the most striking offering on the record is "For What It's Worth," a song that seems apologetic. The song starts with Gallagher proclaiming, "In my defense all my intentions were good." At times it's unclear who the apology is meant for - whether it's himself, Noel, their former bandmates or the fans. As far as apology songs go it does great justice. It's a relaxing, laid-back song that lets Gallagher's vocals truly shine and dip into the occasional falsetto, and could be seen as his answer to Noel's vocals on "Don't Look Back in Anger."

    As a member one of Britain's most loved and critically acclaimed acts, Gallagher has large shoes to fill throughout the rest of his career. The struggle he will continue to face is that those shoes are his own. As You Were combines just enough nostalgia and change to set him on the right path.

    Gallagher returns to Philadelphia for a sold out show at Union Transfer on November 30th.
    Review by Dan Baker

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