“It is a bold move and an unprecedented one; this might be the first Gallagher-related release where the act has been nudged out its zone of comfort…”
Beady Eye | BE
“It’s better to burn out, than to fade away”, warned Neil Young in 1979. As loud-mouthed, drug-dabbling, bar-brawling Liam Gallagher burst onto the scene with Oasis in 1994, few would have been surprised to see him disappear at the peak of Britpop; in a spiraling cloud of excessive money, models and cocaine.
However, nearly twenty years on, the younger Gallagher is still here with Beady Eye. Granted, he is now Noel-less and wounded by the critical and commercial reception of his previous album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, but he is still backed up by the last iteration of Oasis, with Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock having more than enough musical stock and experience between them to spare.
With producer Dave Sitek in tow, new album, BE, sets out to be a departure from the sound of the previous album, criticised for being stuck in the ‘60s and irrelevant to today’s soundscape. It is a bold move and an unprecedented one; this might be the first Gallagher-related release where the act has been nudged out its zone of comfort.
The opening ‘Flick of the Finger’, starts off with an unstoppable drumbeat that is swiftly joined by unexpectedly menacing horns, making it sound like a song that Muhammad Ali could have walked out to the ring to. Liam is on top-form; his untouched vocals give the song a formidably ominous feel, as he warns, “The future gets written today”.
Sitek’s decision to mix the vocals practically free of production trickery pays off; Liam hasn’t sounded this great on record for years. His melancholic turn on ‘Soon Come Tomorrow’ may be one of his most emotional yet, as he wonders “What kind of love burns holes in your heart?”, over the mysterious and absorbing guitars and bass. The song elevates into a, dare I say it, Noel Gallagher-esque guitar solo; sweeping but simple, before Liam whispers the last verse, ending what is undeniably Beady Eye’s best song to date.
There are several other strong moments on the album; ‘Iz Rite’ has an infectious summer feel about it, while ‘Ballroom Figured’ works as a perfectly adequate acoustic-break before final song ‘Start Anew’, which blossoms in a restrained and elegant fashion as the album comes to a close.
However, while the better songs are of a better standard than last time round, the lesser ones are as poor as on the band’s previous album. ‘I’m Just Saying’ is a blunted rehash of the best songs on (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, while single ‘Second Bite of The Apple’ sounds like Sitek tried to get the best out of the band’s meagre offerings, to no particular avail. ‘Don’t Brother Me’ sets out to be a beguiling take on Liam’s relationship with the elder brother, but its lackluster melody stops it from being a song worth revisiting.
Despite its weak points, BE remains a solid album, with several unexpectedly magical moments. It is a step in the right direction after 2011’s faux pas, and with a little less stubbornness in challenging themselves; Beady Eye could be heading for better things.
Neil Young was right about fading away, but maybe he never considered the possibility of burning back into view.