Liam Gallagher's bold solo effort proves he can hold his own.

Since Oasis disbanded in the late summer of 2009, following another dramatic fallout in the well-publicised soap opera with older brother Noel, some might say that Liam Gallagher has been unfairly denied the opportunity for his music to be fairly received without the presence of his brother. Despite Liam's Beady Eye releasing an arguably more impassioned debut in 'Different Gear, Still Speeding' (2011), it was 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' (2011) which drew in the plaudits and accumulated the most sales, making Liam unfairly look like a washed-up frontman in a midlife crisis hopelessly forging a second coming to emulate the best years of his youth. Not even the 'lairy cosmic' and existential exuberance of 'Flick of the Finger' in the pseudo- Cartesian titled 'BE' (2013) could relieve the band of another poor commercial performance and mediocre critical reception, leading to accusations of Liam and the band exceeding their sell-by date. In response Noel stated his belief that 'Liam wouldn't be out of the game for long' (NME, 2015) and he was indeed correct: a year after revealing 'Bold' in an Irish pub, a solo album deal with Warner Music Group was confirmed in August 2016. Fast-forward to 2017 and it seems fair to suggest that 'As You Were' (2017) showcases a more mature version of the man who got Oasis kicked off of ferries in the most feral moments within the 'Definitely Maybe' (1994) era. However, this is not to say that it goes without the hubristic flair that made him arguably the most iconic vocalist in Britpop, with the rich orchestration and excessively crisp production of debut single 'Wall of Glass', co-written by Greg Kurstin. This in itself, perhaps represents Liam acknowledging his limitations, including addressing recurring vocal issues on tour which has been substantially discussed by fans for over a decade; warranting a more sophisticated approach in refining the tonality and timbre of his performance in the recording sessions, which is reflective in 'Bold's' Lennon coated double-tracking. However, despite this there are no clues that Liam Gallagher is in any way suffering from a shortfall in confidence: his renowned and elongated Mancunian drawl is as nostalgic as ever in the raw and overdriven 'Greedy Soul' and 'You Better Run' which effectively captures the energy that constituted the merits of 'Don't Believe the Truth' (2005). Yet the substance in this album does not limit itself to simple-yet-satisfying pleasures, the ballads which Liam himself implied to be more his brother's forte, in fact constitute the core of the album's merits. Forgiving Kurstin for the unsubtle auto-tune applied in the verse, 'Paper Crown' triumphs in its warming minimalism and 'For What It's Worth', which is itself unsubtle for an entirely different reason, showcases some sincerity from Liam as suggested by 'I've been crucified just for being alive'. Furthermore, despite not taking full credibility for the work, 'When I'm In Need' is perhaps the most ambitious song he has put his name to: the glorious call and response's in the bridge, the valiant nature of the chorus and the time signature change inaugurated through 'Hey Jude' combined with the 'Sgt Pepper' (1966) inspired coda would make it a seriously missed opportunity, if not made a single at some point within the campaign. The most heartfelt tearjerkers however are with the innocent tenderness of 'Chinatown', featuring a picked guitar melody which gracefully hops and skips whilst Liam experiments with a softer vocal timbre and 'Universal Gleam', where the gospel backing vocals emit soulful flourishes of spiritual optimism almost push the listener into a state of revival. The most hard-hitting however is the degree of realism found within the melancholic 'I've All I Need', which could be interpreted as Liam lining up his own curtain call if his solo endeavour meets the same fate as the project that proceeded it. Moreover, if one finds themselves conflicted with regards to whether they should invest in the deluxe edition, the guitar phased chugging of 'It Doesn't Have To Be That Way' is perhaps enough to sway it. But in short, what would British music stand to lose from Liam Gallagher's absence? 'As You Were' suggests quite a lot. If this was the album announcing Oasis's return, it would likely have been as jubilantly received as the pending second-coming itself. Regardless of what Noel puts out in the coming months, Liam has rightfully earned stripes of his own.