So both Gallagher brothers have released a new album over the past two months with older brother Noel’s Who Built the Moon? out today while his younger sibling Liam released As You Were last month. The two ex-Oasis members, who have never exactly been best mates, have spent the past few months slagging each other’s new music off. Now whether this is genuine hatred or a clever marketing strategy to sell more albums is up to you but with Liam’s album having reached number one and Noel’s on track to follow the conflict has certainly paid off financially for both. So now with both solo albums out there the big question is: whose is better?
Since Oasis split in 2009 the Gallagher’s have taken different paths. Liam and the remaining members of Oasis formed Beady Eye, which produced two average at best albums, while Noel left and created Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, effectively his own solo project which received much more critical and commercial success. Beady Eye split in 2014 and many had thought we may have seen the last of Liam Gallagher. Noel wrote all the Oasis hits that everyone raves about, could Liam really produce an album all by himself and would it be any good?
The answer is yes he could and it is pretty good. Liam had some co-writers to help him on some of the songs but the album is a lot better for it. It recaptures the in your face spirit from Oasis but sounds just fresh enough that the album is not just a nostalgia trip to 1995. Liam’s live performances have also drastically improved since the Beady Eye days with his voice sounding noticeably better than a few years ago. As You Were has some softer moments too but in the in your face arrogance is what really makes the album so enjoyable.
As for Who Built the Moon? Older brother Noel goes off the beaten track somewhat. His first two solo albums have contained some songs such as AKA What a Life and Riverman that don’t sound much like Oasis but equally he has never gone too far from his roots. This latest album is unlike anything Noel has ever produced. Rather than have all the songs written before heading into the studio, Noel went in with effectively nothing and this new approach coupled with new producer David Holmes mean a much more experimental record. At first I wasn’t sure this was going to work but the album is superb. There’s a lot of up tempo songs that we have never really heard Noel write before and the variety on the album is immense.
Comparing the two albums is difficult. Both are great in different ways. Take lead singles Wall of Glass and Holy Mountain, by Liam and Noel respectively. Wall of Glass is a stomping snarl of a track and I fell in love with it when I heard it. Its exactly what Liam is all about and perfectly kicks off the album. By contrast Holy Mountain caught everyone off guard with a more upbeat tone and saxophones a plenty. It took a while to grow on me but its quite a fun track to listen to if not as impactful as Wall of Glass.
The main distinguishing factor between As You Were and Who Built The Moon? is the sheer variety Noel provides. Liam does show us his softer side with the likes of Paper Crown and For What its Worth, but tracks such as Greedy Soul, You Better Run and Come Back to Me are a decent listen but feel too similar, they have the same in your face Oasis sound but it gets a tad repetitive. Liam’s album is very fun but it just doesn’t have the same variety as Noel’s record.
Noel’s album is filled with so many different influences. While the Kanye West inspired opener Fort Knox seems a bit of a weird choice at first but think of it as a modern day Fucking in the Bushes but slightly more epic. Its a Beautiful World, She Taught Me How to Fly, If Love is the Law, Black & White Sunshine and Keep on Reaching are all upbeat joyful songs all with their own distinctive influences that make them incredibly listenable, especially back to back, without the album becoming repetitive. Noel hasn’t fully shaken The Beatles inspiration quite yet with Be Careful What You Wish For very reminiscent of Come Together. The title track sounds like an excellent James Bond theme and slightly irritating instrumental interludes aside the album is amazing.
So which album is better. Well if you haven’t listened to the Gallagher’s in a while and you want to recapture that Oasis spirit then Liam’s As You Were is a for you. Its a fantastic listen and the in you face-ness is fantastic. But in my opinion the better all around album and one that will genuinely surprise you then chose Noel’s Who Built The Moon? Although of course you should buy both, they’re both great in their own way.