Liam Gallagher, “Why Me? Why Not.”

Liam Gallagher
Why Me? Why Not.
WARNER BROS
7/10

In a recent interview, Noel Gallagher cheekily insisted to The Guardian, “I liked my mum ’til she gave birth to Liam.”

The degree to which he’s speaking in earnest isn’t really the point—but you can read into it the unlikelihood of an Oasis reunion happening. The quibbling siblings will likely be left to their own devices for a significant stretch, and in the meantime, Liam Gallagher’s solo records should definitely not be taken as stopgap fare.

Fittingly, his existentially titled Why Me? Why Not. seems to be undertaking a therapeutic exercise; a sonic show of maturation, if you will. Sadly, the thing this maturity has most noticeably robbed him of is that awesomely snarling sneer of a singing voice. Oh, for the days of his inimitable “Cig-a-rettes and owl-kuh-hawl” Manchester street-brawl drawl!

Still, the opening track “Shockwave” rocks the walls as well as anything by Jack White. And its Beatles-y chorus is so unapologetic in its homage as to call up speculation of spectral possession. “One of Us” pays tribute to, well, Oasis—with pretty, dramatic strings and a somber aura of introspection. The lyric, “You said we’d live forever” was clearly not written by accident.  

Gallagher keeps up the self-referentialism on “Once,” full of stark professions like, “I remember how you used to shine back then / You felt so inspired to do it again / But it turns out you only get to do it once.” It’s a startling confession for someone who is so often accused of lacking the ability to self-reflect; it’s both disarming and endearing.

There’s some forgettable filler here, too: the hackneyed glam of “Halo,” the blandly Lennonesque “Alright Now.” But in a nod to George Harrison, “Meadow” follows as a captivating anthem of self-possession and hopefulness, with a heady, unexpectedly psychedelic outro.

Brother Noel, of course, writes truly brilliant singles. But what Liam seems to have done with Why Me? Why Not. is to make something of a thematic “stop and reflect” record, which closes on a strikingly poignant note with “Gone” and its blunt admission of “I was willing to stand still while you pushed me / But you finally pushed me out the door.”

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