Liam Gallagher – As You Were
I’ve seen Liam Gallagher live once and as entertaining as it was, once is probably enough. Fronting Beady Eye, he spent the whole show wrapping a towel around his fist and threatening to bash some guy up front at the end of the show. He is the epitome of “lad”. But regardless, he’s made some pretty cool music over the years. Throwing in Beady Eye and with no hope of Oasis ever coming back, Liam’s pulled together his first solo effort – As You Were – a rehash of old ideas and Britpop nostalgia. Single ‘For What It’s Worth’ is one of the album’s musical highlights, a sure Brit-festival corker with a sweet strings ensemble. But lyrically, it sets the album up as a bit of a joke. “I’d be the first to say I made my own mistakes,” he sings. “Sometimes we lose our way.” I’m pretty sure, based on any interview or quote I’ve heard from him, that he’s still lost. “Cause I’ve been crucified for just being alive,” he goes on… No, Liam, you’ve been crucified because you’re a knob. Move on. Elsewhere is a mix bag of predictable, albeit still enjoyable tracks. The rhyming dictionary gets a workout on ‘Greedy Soul’, brother Noel’s solo psychedelics are borrowed on ‘Come Back To Me’ and a classic stirring send off via ‘I’ve All I Need’ rounds things out nicely with a rich build. Managing to get through 12 tracks of Liam’s nasal isn’t the easiest, but there’s enough rousing meets rock to make this an worthwhile visit, even if it’s not going to get the repeat business of Oasis.
The Darkness – Pinewood Smile
“We’re gonna blow people’s fucking heads off / Ooh, they’re gonna shit themselves / Crying out for more / Caution, wet floor.” ‘Solid Gold’, from the Darkness’ latest Pinewood Smile, pretty much sums up everything about the band and their most recent glam rock offering. “We are legends / With a power that you can’t deny / We’re immortal / ‘Cause these songs will never die / And we’re never gonna stop / Shitting out solid gold.” The lyrics are the review. Pinewood Smile is a massively tongue-in-cheek venture into the lavish rock and roll world, every song full of nonsense quips and hilarious one-liners. Justin Hawkins is as flamboyant as ever, delivering songs that inflate egos and ignite mosh pits. ‘All the Pretty Girls’ is a blatant nod to stardom, with Hawkins flaunting the rock star appeal (“Girls in my orbit, I’ve got my own gravitational pull”) and how all the mums want him, too. It’s the over-the-top nonsense you’d expect. Then there’s rollicking pirate hair metal (‘Buccaneers of Hispaniola’), very rocking English whinge about the trains (‘Southern Trains’) and ballad-sung vanity musings (‘Why Don’t the Beautiful Cry?’). And yet I want to say, “of course there is”. Expect nonsense, expect comedy, and expect one of the wildest rock jaunts of the year.
“There’s a guy coming down from Sony / Artist an’ repertoire / If he likes what he hears in those stupid ears / I’ll buy myself a faster car / He’s blowing smoke up our asses / Everything we do is ace / He wants to wine and dine us, desperate to sign us / ‘Cause we melted his fuckin’ face”
Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life
There’s a tug-of-war happening on this Wolf Alice record – it wants to be a wispy dream, yet it’s torn apart with vicious outbursts. There’s grunge that slips in and out of existence and a tonne of fuzz that’s there one minute and forgotten the next as polished vocal lines take over. Ellie Rowsell sings “you’re a walking contradiction” on ‘Beautifully Unconventional’, a line that stands out given the 180 turn taken on the upbeat number when compared with the vicious mess of ‘Yuk Foo’ before it (“I don’t give a shit shit, shit, shit”). The shoegaze approach of Visions Of A Life is not too far removed from the debut album, except this time around it all feels altogether more angsty (shouldn’t they be moving past that?). They’ve taken a real uncertainty about their twenties and washed it with feedback, sadness, and some lashings of malice. Rowsell’s vocal then glazes the lot of it, flicking between hushed lines and piercing shrieks. There’s a bunch of levels going on throughout Visions Of A Life that make it an exciting album, but altogether a confused one.
St. Vincent – Masseduction
Annie Clark’s latest St. Vincent record is the incredible amalgamation of her experimental background and all that’s good about contemporary pop. Masseduction is wildly clever and varied, engaging from end to end, and one of the most memorable listens 2017 has dished out. There is a lot going on here – ‘Sugarboy’ is manic, ‘Los Ageless’ as slick as they come, and ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’ devastating. Meanwhile ‘Young Lover’ is filled with high pitched wails and thumping drums, while ‘Slow Disco’ is stirring with a far calmer string ensemble. Each track is mismatched from the others, yet there’s an eccentricity that moulds them all so perfectly together. Amongst it all, the occasional bursts of thrashed guitar, unexpected arrangement twists and slippery synth lines are reminders of a quirkier past, but the tracks here hold up easily against the best pop material going around right now.