When the Gallagher brothers got things right, and they did so frequently during the peak Oasis years, they brought about an explosive chemical reaction between Noel's ability to write flawless rock songs and Liam's willingness to turn them into compelling moments in time. For the most part, it barely seemed to matter that Liam was often a cipher for Noel's lyrics.
Since Oasis split, Noel has demonstrated his ability to thrive without his brother. Both Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Chasing Yesterday were warmly received and sold well. He has a new album out next month. This month, it is Liam's turn to lay out his vision of a post-Oasis world, after his false start with Beady Eye.
Now 45 years old (his brother turned 50 this year), As You Were finds Liam dealing with the grown-up perils of divorce and regret. Sonically, its tectonic plates appear to settle somewhere between the 20-year-old Oasis misfire that was Be Here Now (although that album is overdue a more benevolent reappraisal) and Heathen Chemistry, the release that marked the band's return to form in 2002. The latter reference seems apt because that album also contained three songs penned by Liam. If you liked any of them – Songbird, Born on a Different Cloud or Better Man (co-written by Noel) – then you will find As You Were to your taste. Liam shares songwriting credits with Greg Kurstin, who has worked with Adele, Sia and Beck in the past, as well as Andrew Wyatt and Michael Tighe.
The opening salvos of Liam's new album pack plenty of punch, notably the strident Wall of Glass, the confessional Bold and the pared-back Paper Crown, which all deliver a confident and familiar sound. There is also a mournful, apologetic feel about much of the material here, especially on For What It's Worth ("I am sorry for the hurt, I will be the first to say I made my own mistakes," he laments).
As You Were reveals itself as an album to be read in several ways, just as its title suggests. It is a throwback to an Oasis sound of old, while lyrically it seems to offer a vision of Liam independent of his brother's songwriting. Indeed, it is no coincidence that two of the songs here are titled I've All I Need and, on the record's deluxe version, I Never Wanna Be Like You. The message could hardly be more pointed. You can judge for yourself when Liam performs in Dubai next month.