2019 sees former Oasis frontman and all-round top bloke Liam Gallagher release the hotly-anticipated follow-up to 2017's As You Were, entitled Why Me? Why Not.
We've been through the background of the younger Gallagher before and in reality he needs no introduction. He promised before this record's release that it would be "less apologetic" which he does deliver on undoubtedly, but the idea of it being a full-on punk record does leave a little to be desired.
There's no solely Gallagher-written composition on Why Me? Why Not. but he's teamed up with "an army of songwriters" to create something pretty damn special. Whilst brother Noel may refer to them as people who've managed to make it a template for the twenty-first century, there's certainly some proper tunes here. Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt return, as does Michael Tighe, and LA rocker Damon McMahon has been roped in for a couple of tracks. The overall sound of Why Me? Why Not. is a lot more distinctive in comparison to As You Were and offers something a lot different.
We're introduced to this second release with stomping rocker Shockwave, that, whilst it might not be that Stooges-inspired punk rock tune some might've been expecting, has still got that typical Gallagher pomp and swagger in droves. One Of Us acts a retrospective track regarding an estranged loved one (the comparison is obvious here), stating that they were "one of us" and how "you said we'd live forever", with some obvious digs taking shape. It's evocative, with its heavy strings and low acoustic guitar, of a later Oasis tune, perhaps Part Of The Queue from 2005's Don't Believe The Truth or Stop Crying Your Heart Out, that comes courtesy of Heathen Chemistry.
Once is the first real emotional point, establishing that "it was easier to have fun back when we had nothing", referring to how much easier life was in the Gallaghers' childhood, despite the domestic abuse from their father, Tommy. It's a song John Lennon would be proud of, with its deep piano notes and acoustic guitar reminiscent of songs from Plastic Ono Band or Imagine. It's not the first Lennon-inspired tune here, with Alright Now signalling something similar to Jealous Guy in a way or God with its rolling piano notes and a glam rock solo that Marc Bolan would be proud of.
In addition, Meadow's guitar solo wouldn't sound out of place on Abbey Road and fuses that Beatles influence with a distorted vocal that would work well on a Beady Eye album. There's a much tighter-knit sound on this second album compared to his debut, and it's all the more welcome. The title track is, in itself, a reference to Lennon, referring to two pieces of his artwork with Yoko Ono. Lines such as "You got me over the line/You got me kissing the sky" evoke a similar attitude to some of Lennon's earlier work, like Gimme Some Truth or Cold Turkey for example. I'm a real fan of it; it's got this wonderful arrogance about it that's aided by a solid bassline and erratic Lennon-esque solo.
One of the best songs bar none is Now That I've Found You, a little nod to Liam reuniting with his previously-estranged daughter Molly Moorish (who has since changed her name to Molly Moorish-Gallagher). It's a lot lighter and thinner than some other tracks, with an ascertained feeling of joy and elation taking centre-stage. Whilst some may find it a little repetitive and perhaps cheesy, I'm a great lover of it, with the lightness being offset by a gritty guitar solo. In addition, its MTV Unplugged arrangement sounds brilliant. Halo sees the band unleash their inner Jerry Lee Lewis with its erratic piano, whilst the younger Gallagher runs away with one of the album's best vocals - it's gravelly and the brilliant production from from Greg Kurstin really helps out. Be Still returns to some of the As You Were sound, a little too similar to Doesn't Have To Be That Way, one of the debut's bonus tunes, but is still a substantial improvement on its predecessor.
Gone is a song that could easily be found on the soundtrack of a Quentin Tarantino film, with its deep guitar and slow tempo only increasing its overall attitude. It's a thicker sound, with spoken vocals helping to intimidate anyone listening and the string section works brilliantly. Invisible Sun continues the thicker sound, with a thumping and heavy bassline taking centre-stage as well as some stellar drumwork.
Misunderstood is much slower than its preceding songs, opting for a much simpler setup initially of just Gallagher and an acoustic guitar initially to only increase its fervent emotion. The song later brings in other instruments, but they're not as overpowering as one might expect. Closing track Glimmer has a lot of similarities with Lennon's Oh Yoko! on the verses, with a rocking bassline and hand-claps working well on the chorus to create a great rhythm. It's a little bit of a rockier Songbird, Liam's first Number One with Oasis from way back in 2002. I'd go as far to say it's one of my favourites from this second offering.
Overall, Why Me? Why Not. offers something a lot more distinctive to As You Were with a much wider range of songs, evoking passion, emotion and some wth downright grunt. Whilst we've got the typical reckless sentiments, Why Me? Why Not provides fans with something wider and with more variety that blows his last record out the water.