Why Me? Why Not

by Liam Gallagher

They had worked together for so long, entertaining the masses. And then one of them behaved so badly, forcing the other to go it alone. Everyone said that it wouldn’t be the same with them apart, that it wouldn’t work with them working with others, but everyone saw it – Dec had a lot of fun working with Holly Willoughby on I’m a Celebrity....

The same can be argued for the Gallaghers. Although there’s no denying the impact that Oasis had not only on home shores, but also globally, everyone could see that the sibling rivalry between Liam and Noel was nothing short of toxic.

Despite a lot of water flowing under those Mancunian bridges, there is still bad blood between the two. This forced both bros to go it alone with solo careers. And although that neither of their material released to date has set the world alight in quite the same way as Oasis, everyone still loves a Gallagher: Noel has released three albums with his High Flying Birds, with each one getting to number one in the UK album charts; this, Liam’s second solo effort, has already reached the UK top spot, as did his debut, so he’s snapping on the heels of his elder bro – not that they’re likely to be at all competitive, or anything.

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On a recent chat show, Liam declared, with his usual blunt honesty, that this album is far better than his first. And he’s not wrong.

With a flurry of guitar chords and a blast on a harmonica, Gallagher kicks off his album with ‘Shockwave’. It’s a pleasing, boppy little number, with the usual Beatle-esque melody built into its DNA.

There’s more of a nod to his previous band with ‘One of Us’ - and why not, they did pretty well. Its Oasis connection is strengthened by the fact that it’s also clearly about his relationship with a certain other Gallagher. Is it an olive branch? Perhaps, but if it were to fall on deaf ears, the song would still remain as one of the highlights here.

He reaches for another influence with ‘Once’, dipping into his love for John Lennon. It’s not only the vocals, but the production, with its retro vibe throughout. If you have a fear of flames, then you should beware catching Gallagher live, as it’s no doubt at this point that everyone with a lighter attempts to set the sky on fire.

‘Now that I’ve Found You’ doesn’t waste much time, as Gallagher is keen to get the song up and running, getting his vocals in ASAP. It’s upbeat, friendly, and pleasantly on the warm side.

Now here’s something you don’t hear every day, a piano intro. Not a slick, well produced tickling of the ivories, but a more brutal, Chas & Dave knocking out tunes in the corner of the bar deal. ‘Halo’ is wild and carefree, ticking over the rpm’s at a fair old pace. It even has some cheeky chappy style whistling, which helps lift the mood further. Gloriously playful.

boom reviews Liam Gallagher - why me? why not

If Oasis were still making music, ‘Why Me? Why Not’ would be the epitome of their current sound. Its trademark Oasis and Liam vocals, giving it that effective soaring, sing-a-long-ability. Even Noel would have to concede that he’s kicked it out of the park with this one.

Gallagher pulls it back on the theatrical vocals with ‘Be Still’, with a softer, less in-your-face tone. The result is still a tight, loud track that you can tap your foot to, but it lacks that little bit of sparkle. It’s almost there, but just not quite.

‘Alright Now’ is another track where Liam is keen to get the song going, almost getting his vocals in there before the band start playing. With only one song just barely breaking the four minute mark, don’t expect any epic tracks with guitar solos that don’t know when they’re done. As nice as this song is however, it’s easy to be content with its shorter running time.

Speaking of which, that particular ‘beast’, in all its 4:05 glory, steps up next. ‘Meadow’ is hippy Lennon time. It’s flowery, with just a whiff of psychedelia, perfect to chill and relax to. And yes, it does feature a guitar solo! Groovy huh? And dare we say it, it does feel like it outstays its welcome by about thirty seconds or so.

There’s a bolder sound with the arrival of ‘The River’, which has a Simple Minds style opening, before having some more Beatles influences filtered in, with warm hints of the Fab Four’s ‘Revolution’ splashed all over it.

boom reviews Liam Gallagher- why me? why not

Gallagher must have saved his production budget for this the last track, ‘Gone’, which if you listen to it, also includes the kitchen sink. It’s a lush sound, laced with a wall of sound orchestra borrowed from the Bond studio. It’s a layered treat of noise, hitting all the right notes in a glorious fashion. It’s certainly a grand way to bring an album to a close, that’s for sure.

This will be probably be about as far away from an acceptable notion as you can get, but we are not keen on Oasis getting back together again. Nostalgia is vastly overrated, and today’s Oasis, which would have aging millenials craving the hits, making the band almost a version of their own tribute act.

Sure, they can kiss and make up as brothers, but with both producing interesting solo work, from a purely artistic way forward, they are better off apart.

Gallagher has produced a self-assured, confident album, which hints at possible further greatness to come. It resonates with all his obvious influences, but by doing so, it also gives it a cosy coherence. It’s also a surprisingly mature piece of work, which, without casting aspersions, you would expect from the Noel, but Liam comes across as knowing exactly what he’s doing. Our kid apparently is all grown up now.

It also feels, more importantly, that he’s got a grip on his own musical identity. He proves here that he’s not just the cocky, loud-mouthed frontman of a successful band, he can stand up there, on his tod, and be just as cocky and loud-mouthed, but on his own talented terms.

Why not indeed.

four out of five