Liam Gallagher is one of the most insufferable celebrities on the planet. The huge success of Oasis and his constant feuds with former bandmate and brother Noel Gallagher brought Liam into a national British hyper-spotlight and just plain ol’ tabloid and news coverage elsewhere around the globe. I can’t stand to hear the man speak — for one example, his utter dismissal of The Beach Boys in one interview, as a degenerate Beatles cribber, is pretty rich. But I must admit that I enjoy Oasis, his follow up band Beady Eye (which is also now disbanded), and even his most recent solo albums released under his name alone. The three Liam Gallagher records released in the five years since 2017 have provided variable enjoyment, so I rank them below.
#3 — WHY ME? WHY NOT. (2019)
Favorite track: “Glimmer”
WHY ME? WHY NOT. was Gallagher’s second album, and although much variance in poppiness had been demonstrated for decades with his other bands, it followed a trend of many artists to “refine” their sound for a follow up. Of course, that’s not always a good thing, as the jangly production and beats feel a little cheap and Gallagher’s voice, which at its best is delightfully reedy and at its worst is painfully whiny, is…well, at nearly its worst. But not all is so dire on WHY ME. There are some tracks that leverage the pop cheese, such as “Glimmer,” and the whole album-length experience is not without similarly middling enjoyment. Somehow, critics have come to every Gallagher solo album so far proclaiming their evocation of the Oasis sound, which I haven’t quite heard in the way I expect it (except for one track that pulls straight from “Champagne Supernova”), but WHY ME is a fine bit of pop rock with a bit of rankling production smoothness.
#2 — C’MON YOU KNOW (2022)
Favorite track: “More Power”
Gallagher’s third album and the impetus for this piece, C’MON YOU KNOW also plays with overtly poppy hooks and production. But those hooks are more out-and-out and strong on this album than on WHY ME and repeat listens to C’MON YOU KNOW reveal a richer sound. “More Power,” the record opener, starts with a more appealing vocal delivery from a child’s choir than Gallagher’s own voice with its aforementioned traits, but the whole things builds from a serenity to a pounding beat in a very satisfying way. The singer still hits some notes that make me wince a bit, but overall he’s better here and the songs play with a stronger rockiness amid the catchy choruses and general sheen. C’MON YOU KNOW has its fair share of fun songs and moving tunes, making it a definite improvement over WHY ME.
#1 — AS YOU WERE (2017)
Favorite track: “Wall of Glass”
But it’s Gallagher’s anticipated solo debut that still stands as the best album under his own name. Indeed, AS YOU WERE seems to have earned the greater sales and accolades than the two releases to follow it, and that stands to reason as I see it. AS YOU WERE has the strongest fusion of pulse-pounding modern production with a guitar-oriented sound that doesn’t quite evoke The Beatles the way Gallagher’s other work has. And that’s actually quite welcome! “Wall of Glass” is a good little rocker and most of the tracks that follow the album opener are similarly satisfying. Gallagher sounds the best he has yet on his solo records, perhaps because the mix obscures his voice a bit more here than on WHY ME and C’MON YOU KNOW. In spite of my dismissive comments about his voice, I don’t think Gallagher is a terrible vocalist. And indeed, he’s not a terrible frontman and songwriter, as evidenced by his contributions to and leading of Oasis, Beady Eye, and his own solo albums (the last having major input from producer Greg Kurstin as well). It’s impressive the crass idiocy of the guy is not reflected in the many sensitive tracks that he’s performed. In any event, AS YOU WERE is the strongest example, among the records bearing his name, of Gallagher’s ability to craft and perform solidly catchy pop rock songs, and emphasizes the rock a bit more in an impressive way.