Liam Gallagher & John Squire

Liam Gallagher & John Squire

There had been moments when John Squire wondered how little the future held for him as a musician. In 2020, a thumb he’d broken while playing basketball with his son was struggling to heal and he worried he might never be able to play guitar again. Before that, The Stone Roses—the Manchester band with which he’d helped to completely dilate the horizons of indie music during the late ’80s and early ’90s—had seemed to wither to a final close when their 2016-17 reunion produced two new songs but no desire on any member’s part to make another album. Going into the 2020s, Squire seemed more consumed by his work as a visual artist. Nevertheless, in early 2022, his thumb righted by physiotherapy, Squire had a nagging sense that he wasn’t quite done with music. “I started thinking I’d like to get back out there,” he told Apple Music’ Radio’s Zane Lowe. “‘Have I still got it in me?’ I started putting some ideas together. I wouldn’t say they were songs, they were more like glorified riffs.” He’d had a thought that he might find a female singer to help flesh out those ideas, but then his guest appearance at Liam Gallagher’s Knebworth concert that June sparked a different idea: What if he asked the Oasis man to sing them? It was a question worth asking. Before the end of the year, Gallagher was in Squire’s home studio in Macclesfield, recording demos and igniting Squire’s creative zeal again. “On paper, it’s a slam dunk but to actually hear it and feel that magic was amazing,” said Squire. “The buzz for me has always been that moment of conception when you realize you’ve got something great. When you’re doing that within the framework of a band and an album and gigs, you know all that’s coming down the line at you once you’ve completed the song—there’s nothing better than that feeling. It’s like, ‘I’m the first person that’s heard this and it’s going to travel, it’s going to be released into the wild and do some damage.’” For his part, Gallagher was just chuffed to be working with one of his musical heroes. “John going, ‘Look, I’m back to writing songs and that again,’ made me happy regardless of me singing on them,” Gallagher told Lowe. “These songs came my way and I was double pleased to sing them. I love them. I think John’s equally as good [at songwriting] as he is playing a guitar. I’m sure people know that anyway, but it’s nice if more people get to know it.” You can sense the duo’s mutual satisfaction in an album that was recorded over a two-week period in L.A. with producer Greg Kurstin, a collaborator on Gallagher’s three solo records. While the core elements are familiar—Squire’s roaming, nimble guitar lines, Gallagher’s serrated voice—nothing feels tired or overcooked. Instead, buoyed by the strength of Squire’s melodies, the two turn in performances that might be their best since the Roses and Oasis heydays. Writing the words and music, Squire gives Gallagher moods and colors he’s always worked well with—sneering disdain (“I’m so Bored”), sore-headed yearning (“Mars to Liverpool”), and measured psychedelia (“Love You Forever”)—and successfully coaxes him onto relatively new ground (the blues on “I’m a Wheel”). The world’s recording studios are littered with the ghosts and abandoned recordings of stellar collaborations that should have worked on paper but didn’t create any chemistry on tape. Gallagher thinks his particular super-duo has succeeded for a simple reason. “John’s guitars are lairy, man, and my vocals can be as well,” he said. “I think it lends well to it. [It’s not that] one’s light and one’s heavy. They’re both just fucking coming at you.”

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