Liam Gallagher, John Squire – Liam Gallagher & John Squire (Warner Brothers)

Liam Gallagher and John Squire have teamed up for a full length album. What happens when an Oasis frontman meets a Stone Roses guitarist? The 13th Floor’s Jeff Neems has the answer.

On two separate occasions in the 1990s, I lived in London. It was when the so-called Brit-pop movement was really peaking, with bands like Pulp, Suede, Travis  and Elastica dominating the charts.

With a sound derived from the catchiness of The Beatles, and a nod to alt-rock and college rock, Britpop was dominated by the battle for superiority between Oasis and Blur. They were everywhere in Britain, all over the TV, newspaper and music magazines (remember them)? You couldn’t get away from it.

Liam Gallagher was the singer for Oasis, and came across as an angry smarmy and somewhat drunken git with an attitude problem and minimal talent. “Our kid” or whatever he was called by his brother, was the prime advertisement for the English “lad” culture, replete with Levi’s, adidas sneakers, and a truly dreaful haircut.

Preceding the Brit-pop movement by a handful of years, Manchester’s The Stone Roses were – to my ears – the greatest English rock band of their generation, producing an exceptional debut album which harnessed an energy and a sound they never quite captured again in a career plagued by legal wrangles.

On this album, Gallagher is joined by The Stone Roses guitarist John Squire for what feels like a bit of a rerun of the style which made Oasis et al so incredibly popular. Pleasingly, it appears Gallagher’s singing has improved – quite noticeably, in fact. He actually sounds okay, albeit a tad too engineered in places. But given he was never a particularly good singer in the first place, any improvement is welcomed.

He still sounds like he’s doing most of his singing through his nose, but as I say, it’s a step forward from his drunken pint-throwing days when he would argue with his brother on stage and saunter about like a spoilt child.

Musically speaking, this album is fairly standard contemporary rock – pretty much exactly what you’d expect from this pairing, with Squire’s quality guitar work playing nicely against the dominance of Gallagher’s vocal. It’s all singalong stuff you’d expect to hear at a mainstream pub in many British cities.

There are some sprinkles of soul in the horns and pianos, but ultimately it’s straight-ahead stuff. Few, if any, boundaries are pushed. Lyrical content encourages the listener to raise their hands, notes the sunniness of …err… the sun, the blueness of the sky, and regrets about feelings and behaviour.

Rivers run home to someone, birds sing, boots are worn, mother nature has a song, shadows are on a pavement, sunlight is in someone’s hair, someone has to get out of somewhere – plenty of cliched rock sayings you’ve probably heard elsewhere.  The tempo fluctuates a little throughout, but so seldomly no particular tune really stands out.

Late in the album there’s a song called I’m So Bored, which pretty much reflects how I felt about this one after a couple of listens. It’ll go down well with fans of the sound but won’t win any new supporters. I guess I expected something a bit more innovative than what I got.

Jeff Neems