The latest album from Liam Gallagher's Beady Eye, BE, is now available! But can these old rock dogs learn new tricks on their sophomore effort? 411's Scott Rutherford checks in with his full review!
Many words have been written about the Gallagher brothers. Most of them usually focus on their ego and their more than temperamental relationship that exploded a couple of years back. While they have fractured previously it was always patched back together, make another album and earn another couple of million bucks touring. This time the break is permanent (or as permanent works in today’s musical climate) and has resulted in each brothers own bands, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and the remnant’s of Oasis forming Beady Eye with Liam up front.
Debut efforts form both were released in 2011 and intent was clear, High Flying Birds was a lush affair that mined the same ore as “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” with Noel firmly in charge, while Beady Eye’sDifferent Gear, Still Speeding was a democratic affort with the whole band contributing songs and the style and feel being more straight ahead, Stones-like affair. Most believed Noel won the first round on points thanks to the broader sonic pallet used and his superior song writing skills that hit the mark more often. Beady Eye for their part show their hand when you have songs like “Beatles and Stones” but they still had some great moments with “Bring The Light” being a great example of rock n’ roll.
Round two for Beady Eye see’s them ensuing debut album producer Steve Lillywhite for the more experimental approach with TV on the Radio guru Steve Sitek taking control. How well will the band work with a producer who focuses on details rather than someone who’s hallmark is the bigger picture?
Track Listing - BE
1. Flick of the Finger
2. Soul Love
3. Face the Crowd
4. Second Bite of the Apple
5. Soon Come Tomorrow
6. Iz Rite
7. I'm Just Saying
8. Don't Brother Me
9. Shine a Light
10. Ballroom Figured
11. Start Anew
The obvious thing about Beady Eye’s new working partner is that he has not been afraid to tip the sound of the band on its head. “Flick of the Finger“ is the obvious album highlight as Sitek’s motto must have been “No Beatles Allowed”. It has the swagger that would expect from a Liam Gallagher vocal but the atmospheric production and the liberal dose of horns throughout make it clear, this is not Oasis.
Follow up track “Soul Love” only proves the point further. Built around drummers Chris Sharrock languid beat, it resists the temptation to bring in the histrionics that you would expect from a bunch of rock dogs instead the final 2 minutes are a sonic soundscape you would more likely find on a Brian Eno album that only enhances the meditative mood of the song.
This makes track three, “Face the Crowd” even more effective as the band revert to their usual rock form and even though the songs is nothing new for them, and the James Bond-like strings are almost a copy of string they used on “Millionaires” from their debut album. It makes an effect opening three-song combo for the band.
The biggest surprise of this set is the fact there really isn’t anything you would consider bad. Sitek for all his efforts cannot completely beat the English rock roosts of this band and nor should he. The band strength is the fact they know how to play a good rock song. Why completely abandon that? Missteps are more the course as songs like “Iz Rite” with it’s aping of John Lennon and “Soon Come Tomorrow” which is unremarkable in its plainness.
There is still a lot to like about the rest of the album. The jaunty beat of “I’m Just Saying”, the reimagining of the Bo Diddley beat in “Shine a Light”, the trashy glam styling of “Second Bite of the Apple” are all enjoyable listens. The one thing you take away from all of these is that they could have been made all the better with some judicious editing. It’s all good and fine to let the band stretch their legs when presenting songs but a producers job is to make sure each songs is as good as it can be. No more is this evident than on “Don’t Brother Me”.
You don’t have to be a genius to know what this is about and who it’s directed at. Liam is not shy (as if he’s ever been) and he’s in full barbed glory when he’s singing…
Don't bother me when you're done
Sick of all your lying, skimming and you crying
They say that I'm free but I'm one
I'm always in the sun, did you number one?
However, he morphs into a conciliatory tone with…
In the morning, I’ll be calling
Hoping you’ll understand
All or nothing, I’ll keep pushing,
C’mon now give peace a chance
Take my hand, be a man
Problem is what you have above is almost the entire lyrics for the song and it clocks in at over 7 minutes long. You could gut 4 ½ minutes out of this thing and gave us a properly great track instead you have something that meanders and is repetitive to the point of distraction. The same can be said for the two last tracks which are just there and unremarkable at best. You could have easily have left both these off and subbed in two tracks from the deluxe edition release of this album.
Most notably I would have included “The World is Not Set in Stone” with it apocalyptic feel and “Girls in Uniform” which is a dream marriage of Paul McCartney whimsy, Ray Davies narrative and a nice helping of fun. BE would have been stronger for it.
The 411: I like this album and it’s definitely step away from what you would expect Beady Eye to sound like. Dave Setik expanded the bands sound and let them have their way with the songs. While this has resulted in some sterling songs and moments, this set could have used a fresh set of ears and power of veto or at least edit down some of the more experimental moments. When Beady Eye get it right, you will be rewarded just be prepared a wade through some flat spots to get to the good stuff. Recommended.