Whether he's needlessly berating his older brother or beefing with pubs over his beloved "tracky bottoms," Liam Gallagher's brash antics have always propelled him into the spotlight. Yet, however entertaining Gallagher's outspoken nature may be, it can also distract from what got him here in the first place: his artistry. On As You Were, the former Oasis and Beady Eye frontman proves he still has the chops to deliver smooth, enjoyable songs, but fails to live up to his own standards and hype.
Lead single "Wall of Glass" opens Gallagher's debut solo effort with a bang, cresting on the jolting wails of a harmonica, a Queens of the Stone Age-esque guitar break and crisp production courtesy of Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters, Sia). At the behest of Gallagher's label, As You Were features collaborations from the likes of Kurstin and Dan Grech-Marguerat (Lana Del Rey, Moby), whose clean, radio-friendly stylings are tastefully executed throughout the record's 12 tracks, but strip them of the grit that long-time listeners have come to know and love in Gallagher's work. On "Greedy Soul," he delivers lines like "She got a 666/I got my crucifix" with his signature snarl, but while the driving drumbeat is snappy enough to get your feet moving, it feels a little vapid.
Gallagher is strongest on As You Were's ballads, notably "Paper Crown" and "For What it's Worth," showing his rarely seen softer side on the latter as he tenderly croons, "Let's leave the past behind with all our sorrows / I'll build a bridge between us and swallow my pride." The gently finger-picked guitar in "Chinatown" also serves as a highlight, not to mention a welcome reprieve from the song's painfully corny lyrics; "What's it to be free, man? / What's a European? / Me, I just believe in the sun" sounds reminiscent of something Noel Gallagher would have penned during Oasis's weak later years.
As convincing as Liam Gallagher is when he audaciously boasts that he's "got the Midas touch" early on in the album, As You Were doesn't ever quite turn to gold. (Warner)