Liam Gallagher Says Nothing New on 'C'mon You Know'
Published May 26, 2022When Creation Records founder Alan McGee discovered Oasis, the first thing he noticed was Liam Gallagher. Recalling the oft-mythologized night, McGee heard a gaggle of Mancunian accents and, when he turned to find the source, he found his gaze caught on Liam. "I looked over and saw Liam Gallagher for the first time. He looked amazing. A proper, Adidased-up mod," McGee wrote in his autobiography. When older brother Noel first heard Liam sing (the younger brother never sang at home) as part of Oasis' earliest iteration, Rain, the older brother remarked, "Oh, he sounds like [Stone Roses frontman] Ian Brown," a decided compliment from the notoriously critical brother.
In the present day, Gallagher can usually be found on Twitter, where he remains enigmatic through his curiously repetitive, meaningfully meaningless, expletive-filled tweets that strive toward a kind of profundity. Gallagher's latest musical offering, third solo album C'mon You Know, contains the whole of his arresting and inimitable celebrity persona, for better and for worse — it packages up his immediately recognizable and beautiful croon with his indemnification of all those who are categorically bad, according to him. In other words, the whole of what made Gallagher so beguiling in the '90s is present here, alongside what keeps him in the public eye today: his loud moralizing. But that it contains the whole of him also means that the album showcases Gallagher's shortcomings as a lyricist and a solo musician.
C'mon You Know is all enthusiastic gesturing without any subtle thoughts to convey. Both Gallagher brothers are at their lyrical best when they stick to the particular, rather than waxing generally critical. This is why even Noel says that Liam's "Songbird" (off Oasis's Heathen Chemistry) is one of the group's "best tunes." And it's also why "Little James" (from Standing on the Shoulders of Giants), about Liam's then-stepson, is tender enough to move you to tears. These songs work because Gallagher's words are filtered through his unique eyes to chart new territory within age-old themes of love and fatherhood.
C'mon You Know, on the other hand, disappoints cringeworthy song titles like "World's in Need," "I'm Free," "Better Days" and "Oh Sweet Children," which, when contrasted with "Little James," makes one wish that Gallagher would get off his soapbox more often. He's best when he sticks to his own particular experiences and visions, as opposed to making grand — and therefore vague — judgements about love and goodness, which makes for boring songs. "Oh Sweet Children" rings like a track made for some kind of a children's aid charity show. We know he means well, but these songs ring hollow, gesturing towards a mess of a world that everyone is much too tired of thinking about. C'mon, you know we already know this, Liam. The tracks' lyrical corniness makes it easy to overlook their otherwise absolutely fine musical merit. "World's in Need" is cute and fun on its face — until Gallagher wonders, "Whatever happened to the world we knew."
"I'm Free" is like if the "old man yells at cloud" meme were a song, or perhaps is like the first song an angsty teenager would write. "How long you gonna sell illusion? / How long you gonna sell confusion? / You're gonna pay the piper, man," Gallagher sings because it's suddenly 1968, apparently. "You're the soul prisoner taking in the InfoWars," is an actual line that Gallagher more says with a hiss than sings in the year of our lord 2022. He never interrogates any of these ideas, preferring to deal in generalized statements.
Of course, this is not to say that the youngest Gallagher is incapable of nuance occasionally. The Dave Grohl-co-written "Everything's Electric" and "Moscow Rules" are interesting tracks, with the latter ringing as cinematic as a Tolstoy tragedy. "Paralyzed by memories of ruined afternoons, get out of bed and come sing us a tune, nothing's new, nothing's cool," he sings on "Moscow Rules." It's a lush track with words that Gallagher sings from the particular, not as someone trying to philosophize or save the world. This song contains sombre strings, a direly driving piano, a fleeting flute, drums like a marching band, and a sax that is positively Lynchian, accompanying Gallagher's voice that is more complex rather than chastising. Here, toward the "you" of his second-person perspective, his voice is tender and almost mournful as it shows his stunning range. If only more of the tracks were as unique as this one.
Most of C'mon You Know lacks memorable hooks, instead offering variations on condemning "sheeple." But that standouts "Diamond in the Dark," "Everything's Electric" and "Moscow Rules" punctuate this album means that they puncture it, too, rising to a level of quality that makes the other tracks forgettable by comparison, leaving the album as a whole deflated.
Ultimately, C'mon You Know delivers the most authentic version of Liam Gallagher. He's still able to enthrall listeners with that voice that first caught Alan McGee's attention, but one can't help but wonder what Noel would have to say about the InfoWars line. If the album is to be judged on whether it accurately reflects Gallagher in all his good and bad aspects, then it's aces. (Warner)