Brotherly love comes in all different shapes and sizes, colors and shades, and fluid moods and attitudes. Some flourish through decades of art making and collaboration and others flutter at the slightest glimmer of bond. Where tension meets animosity for reasons both ill and valid, creativity falters regardless of the circumstance. And with odes to legacy that take the shape of a forlorn toast or nostalgic psyche, oftentimes the effort misses the mark between respect and relevance. Even though As You Were, Liam Gallagher’s most recent release, is undeniably an ode to the catastrophic and colossal nature of a past and very brotherly endeavor, it nestles comfortably within commemoration, reminiscence, and instinct.
A key facet in hitting this target is a familiar tactic for both the Gallagher family in general and Liam: composition, structure, and variation. What’s drastically different about As You Were from past non-Oasis ventures is a return to form rather than building from the ground up. Liam’s instinct and engrained habits take hold all throughout As You Were, and tests listeners’ limits into thinking the Oasis framework is back as a contemporary silhouette. He hits the target on numbers like “When I’m in Need”, ‘Wall of Glass”, and “Come Back to Me”, which sound like classic Oasis songs, but the missing (brotherly) link is undeniable on a song like “I Get By”. Where the listener, presumably an Oasis fan, would beg for a ripping Noel guitar solo, the substitute and long-time collaborator, Jay Mehler, fills in with hints of methodology and flair.
Though it’s definitely punitive to lob solo and non-solo releases into the same ring, the threshold of an artists catalog is all-inclusive, and the wind definitely shifts in Liam’s favor when comparing As You Were with non-Oasis endeavors (especially the Beatles write-off, Beady Eye). He surrounds himself with a talented cast of musicians both in the booth and behind the board, and it certainly pays off for a rounded album release. By enlisting the likes of Greg Kurstin (Adele), Dan Grech-Marguerat (Lana Del Rey), and Andrew Wyatt (Mark Ronson, Lorde, Miike Snow), As You Were has dynamic and idiosyncratic qualities in each number where they may have meshed together on a Beady Eye release. Down to every recorded instrument on separate songs, Liam’s voice sustains the only similar sound throughout. And though a common theme (the signature Liam sound) carries from the first song to the end, he subtly broadens the spectrum of sound through composition and personnel, whether the listener wants to adhere to the latter or not.
The undeniable yearning for Noel’s musicianship is a tough obstacle to hurdle. It’s certainly subtle on a tune like “I Get By”, but its absence is looming when considering the truly incredible stature of Oasis’ catalog. Again, unfortunately for Liam, this is not the first time he’s been on this path with side projects like Beady Eye dead in the backseat, but there are numbers like “Comeback to Me” to truly hit the target and the Oasis sound right on the nose. To a certain degree, Liam had to at least make the most honest attempt at recreating the sheer force of Oasis while also staying original, and he did a damn good job. Damn good.