After 2011′s underwhelming debut, Different Gear, Still Speeding, Beady Eye promised an adventurous change of plot for its second release, BE.
Singer Liam Gallagher and his cohorts enlisted Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio for a reinvigorating musical makeover, but it’s a curious pairing.
Sitek, an indie-producer du jour, recorded the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Foals, and even Scarlett Johansson’s album of Tom Waits covers. Beady Eye, featuring 4/5 members of Oasis, is rooted in the sounds of its retro predecessors, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones.
On BE, this unlikely partnership adds everything from iPhone apps to organs and complex psychedelic rhythms to create an incongruous, yet often intriguing, sound. It’s an ambitious step forward, but all this talk of progress falls flat, as the band sees experimenting merely as a buzzword.
“We’ve experimented or whatever it is. What more do you fucking want?” Gallagher said in response to some skeptical Oasis fans boycotting Beady Eye.
The uneven effort kicks off with “Flick of the Finger,” a thrilling stomper with a drum line nearly nicked from the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man.” A rush of horns and fuzzed guitars fills the song as Gallagher sings, “You’re gonna tell me that you hear every word I say, but the future gets written today.”
There’s a spirit of revolution guiding the song, which closes with British comedian Kayvan Novak quoting a passage from Tariq Ali’s book, Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties.
It’s an artful composition matched only by the second single, “Second Bite of the Apple,” brimming with bright horns alongside trippy bass grooves and bells. “Shake my tree/Where’s the apple for me?/Tickle my feet with the NME,” Gallagher sings.
But no matter how many unconventional recording ideas Sitek throws into the mix, the album is ultimately shortchanged by a lack of songwriting imagination.
A trio of songs —“Iz Rite,” “I’m Just Saying,” and “Face the Crowd”— are rote Oasis rockers surrounded by ballads that never reveal Beady Eye’s “experimental nature.” “Don’t Brother Me” is a seven-minute space oddity in which Liam pleads with his feuding brother and ex-Oasis songwriter, Noel Gallagher, to “give peace a chance” before admonishing him for “lying, scheming, and crying.” Three minutes later, the song downshifts into an unfocused jam of sitars and strings.
There’s not much to speak of lyrically with this effort, as the words range from the nonsensical (“Yes, you’re not wrong/She wants to know what’s in your pocket”) to the cliché (“Life is short/Don’t be shy.”) As always, Gallagher sings with conviction and unwavering belief in these songs, and it’s that Gallagher bravado that led to the decision of keeping his voice bare and free of studio effects.
It’s a shame that a combination of cigarettes and alcohol, along with years of hard touring, rendered Gallagher’s nasally Johnny Rotten-like snarl into a caricature.
On the muddling “Soul Love,” Gallagher sounds like he’s singing from a vinyl recorder, and he aims for a wounded vulnerability that never materializes on “Ballroom Figured.”
For all its blustering talk of evolution, Beady Eye sounds like a band stuck looking backward. Different Gear, Still Speeding was a rushed collection of discarded Oasis tunes and ideas that failed to excite Beady Eye’s built-in fan base. BE is the work of a band stumbling to form an identity outside of Oasis and unsure of where to go next.
Beady Eye – BE tracklist:
- “Flick of the Finger”
- “Soul Love”
- “Face the Crowd”
- “Second Bite of the Apple”
- “Soon Come Tomorrow”
- “Iz Rite”
- “I’m Just Saying”
- “Don’t Brother Me”
- “Shine a Light”
- “Ballroom Figured”
- “Start Anew”