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“I’m quite happy with the formula,” Liam Gallagher told NME in February. “I look cool. I sound good. I talk from the heart.” So he’s still wearing the parka and the shades. Still falling drunkenly out of (grounded) helicopters after festivals. Still channelling The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in big, lairy rock songs; his celebrated sneer amplified by his funnelled hood, dragging those long, rough vowels behind him like a plastic bag of cans. But, despite its lazy shrug of a title, Gallagher’s third solo album is his best so far. It comes charged with more than enough blokey-bluesey energy and bawl-along, arms-aloft choruses to send the crowds madferit at Knebworth next week.
Fences mended after Keith Richards’ Nineties dismissal of Oasis as “crap”, Gallagher, who supported The Rolling Stones on tour in 2018, opens C’mon You Know with the first of many nods to the pirate rockers. The album’s opening bars are filled by a children’s choir, like the one that introduces “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Pure little voices sing over a crisply strummed acoustic guitar: “The cut, it never really heals/ Just enough to stop the bleed.”
Like the Stones’s song, “More Power” swells from yearning to satisfaction, as Gallagher regrets that he was “angry for too long” that “you might not get the girl you want, but you’ll get the girl you need”. The song concludes with a crashing of cymbals that subsides casually into the bowl-along, bell-bottomed Madchester beat of “Diamond in the Dark”, on which Gallagher tips his deerstalker to “A Day In the Life” by The Beatles. He repeats the line, “Now I know how many holes it takes to…” and leaves the listener to mentally add “fill the Albert Hall”. There’s more Fab Four-inspired fun on “Don’t Go Halfway”, which plays with the trippy, backwards-spooling tape sounds of Revolver. Gallagher enjoys himself, snarling out back-of-a-fag-packet lines such as: “And a girl she gave me hell/ In a flat in Camberwell”.
Dave Grohl shifts the chord pattern to chunkier, more Foos-y sound on “Everything’s Electric”, the single he wrote with Gallagher. The Foo Fighters frontman has dialled right into Gallagher’s style, with largely impenetrable lyrics that allow the singer to swagger and sway between cornering confrontation (“No, you thought I wouldn’t know?”) and waves of optimism (“The higher we go/ The longer that we can fly!”). It doesn’t really need to make sense – listeners can howl along, fitting the phrases to exorcise and rise above their own grievances.
There’s so much sheer, on-one attitude in Gallagher’s parka pastichery that’s hard to resist. His band are on fire with it. Riffs skirling from the guitars. Drums constantly a-quiver. Even tossed-off tracks like “World in Need” (“send godspeed”) catch flame with harmonica hooks and shaken maracas. There are a few textural surprises too: moments of reggae and dub amid the thrash of a paranoid “I’m Free”, a kooky vibe to “It Was Not Meant to Be”, and some unexpected folky picking on “Moscow Rules”. Things end on a blissed out “Sweet Children”, which channels John Lennon’s wheel-spinning post-Beatles sound. Fans will only need to give this album a couple of spins before they’ll be set to sing along in the festival fields. Close your eyes and you can already smell spilt Stella on the crushed grass. The formula works.