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Music review: Liam Gallagher, Marilyn Manson still show swagger on new albums

Marilyn Manson (left) and Liam Gallagher made headlines with their outrageous behaviour and larger-than-life personalities in the 1990s.
Marilyn Manson (left) and Liam Gallagher made headlines with their outrageous behaviour and larger-than-life personalities in the 1990s.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AFP

Liam Gallagher and Marilyn Manson make valiant attempts to re-establish their relevance in the contemporary world

Back in the 1990s, Liam Gallagher and Marilyn Manson were two of rock's biggest rabble-rousers, making headlines as much for their music as their bad boy behaviour and larger-than-life personalities.

Both Gallagher, former frontman of Britpop giants Oasis, and Manson, American prince of darkness, make valiant attempts at re-establishing their relevance in the contemporary music world by releasing new albums last Friday .

It works for Gallagher, 45, even though it seems as though the years have mellowed him a little. That nasal sneer is less pronounced and the wide range of sounds in As You Were, his debut solo album, sees him expanding on the Oasis palette.

But make no mistake, this is no stodgy dad rock record.

It is a lot more refined than the material in the two albums released by his other former band Beady Eye, the outfit formed by Gallagher and fellow former Oasis members sans older brother, and perennial rival, Noel.

The younger Gallagher has also lost none of his smug swagger, as evidenced by the confident strut of upbeat tracks such as Wall Of Glass and Greedy Soul.

  • BRITPOP

    AS YOU WERE

    Liam Gallagher

    Warner Bros.

    3.5/5 stars

    INDUSTRIAL ROCK

    HEAVEN UPSIDE DOWN

    Marilyn Manson

    Loma Vista/Caroline

    3.5/5 stars

There are plenty of nods to his past - the minor-key vibes of For What It's Worth feature a pre-chorus build-up not unlike some of Oasis' biggest tunes, but the album also packs a lot of colour.

From the pensive mood of Paper Crown and psychedelic build-up of When I'm In Need to the stomp of You Better Run and the campfire singalong of Universal Gleam, Gallagher seems intent on broadening his scope and finding his own feet as a solo act.

Manson, 48, slips comfortably into his role as shock rock elder in Heaven Upside Down, the tenth album released by the band named after him.

"I'm unstable, I'm not a show horse", he puns on electronic rock stomper Tattooed In Reverse.

Yet he also wants you to know, in the grief-stricken Blood Honey, that under the spooky gothic-glam veneer, he is human too ("I got some feelings/But I try to hide when I'm healing").

In Saturnalia, Manson alludes to his father's recent death, which took place just as the singer was about to finish the album.

Like in previous album The Pale Emperor (2015), he has teamed up with songwriter, guitarist and producer Tyler Bates, known for cinematic soundtrack work for blockbusters such as the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise (2014 and 2017) and television shows such as Californication (2007 to 2014).

The result is a sonically robust record, full of the digital doom and clinical chaos that Manson made his name with in the past quarter century. It is not new but still darkly exhilarating, nonetheless.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'Bad boys of the 1990s return'. Print Edition | Subscribe