In the ‘90s, there were basically two types of American teenagers. Either you couldn’t tell Noel Gallagher and Liam Gallagher apart, or you were utterly obsessed with the rock band Oasis, and as such, knew everything about them. Liam was the singer, and Noel, the songwriter. But now, with the release of his third solo album (and fifth post-Oasis album overall) Liam has proven something unexpected: How his songs sound matter much more than what the songs are like.
It would be wrong to say Gallagher’s new album, C’mon You Know (Warner Records), is better than the best Oasis album. Even the once-braggadocious Liam probably wouldn’t say that. In recent UK interviews, he’s said “you’ve got to play the hits,” in reference to giving fans what they want and playing Oasis songs (like “Wonderwall”) at his live gigs. So the question is, are the songs on Liam’s new album as good as some of the songs from his Oasis days?
Maybe not. The song “Better Days” comes close. Maybe “Diamond in the Dark.” But here’s the thing some critics seemed to have missed: Every single one of Liam’s new songs sounds better than any of the songs from his wildman Oasis days. On this album, Liam’s voice is more polished, unique, hardcore, and interesting than it’s ever been. Sonically and aesthetically, his vocal performance is way cooler now than it was in the ‘90s.
A cynic might chalk this up to record production trickery, but then just watch him performing his new songs live. Liam recently headlined the massive UK Knebworth musical festival and put on a flawless, perhaps more professional show than he did back when Oasis played the same venue in 1996. Back then, Liam shared the stage with his brother Noel. In 2022, Liam’s son Gene was playing drums on stage with his dad. Oasis, it would seem, even when it’s just Liam, is still a family affair.
Because Liam Gallagher is 49 and will turn 50 this September, there’s a profound bit of hope contained in the simple fact that Liam’s voice sounds better on his new record than it does on What’s the Story? (Morning Glory) from 1995. If you’re a man who thinks being freaking 50 means you’re not cool anymore, Liam’s new record is here to prove you wrong.
The record features collaborations with members from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, and notably, Dave Grohl, who basically created the drum arrangement for the old-school stomper, “Everything’s Electric.”
Few rock stars have pulled off this kind of longevity, especially rock stars from the ‘90s. At one point, you could say Bono managed this kind of timelessness. And sure, new Paul McCartney albums are reliably good. But, Liam Gallagher has basically made a career out of people underestimating him. In the stand-out song from the new album (again, “Better Days”) Gallagher sings “BELIEEEVE MEEEE.” With this album, you’ll be ready to believe him all over again.