Beady Eye's second is a very fine rock `n' roll album with some intriguing and refreshing weirdness
At this stage you could almost guess what is going to be on a post-Oasis album from Liam, or indeed Noel, Gallagher. Yea verily! There will be a vaguely psychedelic, lysergic ballad; there will be a incantatory, mantra-like rock out; there will be a song with a Slade-like title (in this case, Iz Rite); and there will also be the use of backwards tape loops and a sitar.
And for those of us who long gave up expecting either Gallagher to do anything truly interesting after we heard the first notes of Oasis’ third album, that’s just fine. Be is a very good rock `n’ roll album indeed. Drafting in Dave Sitek of TV on The Radio to give Beady Eye’s sixties dreaming a bloody good monstering was a masterstroke and while Be still casts a longing eye back to pop’s so-called golden age, it also proves that the band themselves were fully aware that nostalgia has no future.
Be may sound rather pedestrian on first listen but pro-tools, speech samples, the use of iPhone apps and Sitek’s cunning employment of an old school Solina String Synthesizer to add phantasmagorical string effects, reveal that there are whole other layers under the usual meat-and-spuds rock orthodoxy. The spirit of ‘68 does inform opener Flick of The Finger which features a compelling sample of an anti-Vietnam rally in London and a whiff of sixties sedition hangs in the air. Smartly, the title is not what you think and refers in fact to a digit hovering over the red button to launch nuclear wipe out.
That’s the closest you’ll get to lyrical subtlety here as Liam rolls out some classic rhyming dictionary duffers and a plethora of borrows from The Beatles. The best songs belong to Andy Bell, former member of Ride and ex-Oasis new boy. His three contributions, Face The Crowd, I’m Just Saying, and Soon Come Tomorrow, all have interesting things happening under the lashings of wha wha and big acoustic guitar trash. Gem Archer’s Second Bite of the Apple is also a cracker, featuring rumbling and rolling drums, big blasts of brass and Liam’s hooky line, “shake my tree, where’s the apple for me? Tickle my feet with the NME”
It is not without its plodders and cringe-inducing Beatles references. The Liam-penned Soul Love is a listless trudge, Ballroom Figured, the song with the most-interesting title, turns out to be the least interesting song, and closer, Start Anew aims for anthem but sounds anaemic. But it’s Don’t Brother Me (Liam’s very own How Do You Sleep directed at his estranged brother) that is Be’s low point. It starts with lyrical venom but ends with Gallagher minor offering a wilting olive branch which leaves him sounding rather petulant and self-pitying and not the better man of the piece.
But despite that and despite the odds, Beady Eye’s second album has set them up as a worthwhile on-going concern.