Let’s get the obvious discussion out of the way. Has Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye finally shed its Oasis skin? The short answer is ‘sort of.’ The first track on the album and the first unofficial release in the UK, ‘Flick of the Finger’, sets the tone of the album with an expansive intro and a tense verse that heralds the arrival of band that’s found their sound.
That being said, other songs fail to escape the feel of Oasis. For example, in ‘Soul Love’ and ‘Ballroom Figured’, similarities can be drawn between the lyrical style and song arrangements of BE and Don’t Believe the Truth (Oasis’ 6th studio album). Others such as ‘Shine a Light’ have guitarist Gem Archer’s influence, unmistakably in the same vein as his track ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ from the Oasis album of the same name.
That’s not to say that every song is overshadowed by Oasis predecessors. On the contrary, working with producer Dave Sitek has done wonders for their sound, creating a slick ambient album with emotional variety and spaciness The Verve could be proud of. Still, I’m going to get my gripes out of the way first. Even on the third listen of the album, there’s still something missing. The band’s lyrics just aren’t enough to hold my interest and the vocal melodies rely on Liam far too much. And of course his voice is but a shadow of the gravelly fury it used to be. Indeed it’s more nasally than ever and he seems to find it hard to sing with feeling at times. And, as Liam’s arch nemesis Robbie Williams gleefully pointed out, where are the choruses? At times it works, but there are a couple of track which seem static, and it makes the song writing appear lazy.
Which brings another problem for Beady Eye: comparisons between Liam and his brother Noel are unavoidable. And although Noel can never be accused of writing particularly deep or original lyrics (most of the time), it’s hard to deny that his songs are catchier than ever and still contain the signature hooks that made Oasis a household name. The songs are BE are far from terrible, but they lack Noel’s touch; his song-writing for the masses.
That being said, there are some thoroughly enjoyable stand out songs on BE. ‘Face the Crowd’ is amazing because it really imbues that late 60’/early 70’s rock n roll feeling into each section, which is obviously what the band were aiming for. There are some really cool, subtle effects happening at different parts of the songs. There’s some fantastic, quick darting wah used here, and also on other songs like the beautifully dynamic ‘Soon Come Tomorrow’.
The inclusion of synth sounding brass on ‘Second Bite of the Apple’ and ‘Flick of the Finger’ is a nice touch and it texturally blends in really well with the slick production. The album also isn’t afraid to play with more ambient sounds to bring in something different. A perfect example is ‘Don’t Brother Me’ with its suggestion of Pink Floyd’s lengthy, atmospheric sections. The song is also a blatant dig at Noel, although as Liam explains in this interview, “there’s a load of love” too. Certainly with lyrics such as “come on now, give peace a chance” it does seem a call for a truce. A shame the rest of song is rather bland lyrically because it is so beautiful musically.
Nonetheless, BE is worth checking out. You might not think much of it at first, but it one of those albums that grows on you with each listen. It’s easier to listen to if you ignore the burning desire for an Oasis reunion whilst doing so. BE is a vast improvement on their first offering, Different Gear, Still Speeding, because it seems Beady Eye have finally found their feet at last. The lads still have yet to tour down under, although bassist Andy Bell has indicated that the band are keen to visit Australia this time around – possibly for Big Day Out. Here’s hoping!