C’mon You Know finds Liam Gallagher leaning hard into his particular rockstar persona, and the formula is as refined as its ever been.
Liam Gallagher decided some time ago — one could roughly pin this date to somewhere around the fallout of his Oasis-adjacent band’s dissolution, but that would be a conservative estimate — that he didn’t really seem to care about a few things that his brother and former bandmate, Noel Gallagher, seemed deeply concerned with: writing his own songs, artistic integrity, good taste, human decency, and maybe most importantly, aging gracefully. The first on that list was never an issue with Liam (he had gotten pretty far in life never penning a tune, so why start now?), and the second felt like the wrong line of questioning to ask a musician who could/still does only know how to play the tambourine. The last three on that list though? Well, he was obviously never going to acquire those features in time to properly resurrect his struggling career, so that became part of the grand joke that was becoming easier to identify when Liam was “in” on it. Yes, he’s a pompous neanderthal who’s partially responsible for some of the worst fashion trends from the mid-’90s, but he embraced the role of the court jester rather well once he realized always taking the piss was a bankable-enough persona to fashion a solo career off of. So here we are, some ten-plus years since Oasis last played together, and Liam continues to act like not a day has gone by since 1995; unlike most acts his age, he’s so cocksure about his immortality that he can actually get away with it too.
Besides, C’mon You Know, Liam’s third solo album since Beady Eye’s breakup, is proof enough that he continues to possess enough bumptious charisma in order to pedal the exact same act he’s been performing for almost three decades now. It’s stylistically varied, if also derivative as hell — mix in some Arctic Monkeys (“Diamond In The Dark”), throw in a dash of Tame Impala’s genre-bending, the persistent Lennon worship continuing to rear its ugly head with occasional delusions of grandeur (“Too Good For Giving Up”) — and there are plenty of dubious creative choices to delegitimize the album’s many delights (the inclusion of an apolitical song titled “Moscow Rules” released now of all times; the unwavering and equally tone-deaf conviction that “everything’s just gonna be alright” that permeates the album). But Gallagher’s enough of an entertaining presence that one’s seldom required to buy wholesale into the ridiculousness of the product’s more baroque components: the vocal melodies are so crisp and compact that you start to stop caring about how presentable any of these songs would sound to the general public when taken at face value. The songwriting of the music itself — not the lyrics, which are generally dodgy at best, but absurdist enough for Liam to vocally dig into and contort to his liking (the hook on “Everything’s Electric”) — is symmetrically structured to the utmost degree: not a second is wasted, not one chorus is out of place; an over-produced, synthetic experience to be sure — is it still “real” rock if it barely grooves? — but undeniably (and almost deceptively) arresting whenever the right elements are brought into place. So perhaps it’s best to call what Liam Gallagher does on C’mon You Know less the act of making rockstar music and more the work of a rockstar simply being a rockstar, with some appropriate backing accompaniment. Either way, it’s all part of a formula he’s spent most of his life refining, and now, the fruits of his (non-)labor are beginning to slowly pay off.
Published as part of Album Roundup — May 2022 | Part 1.