Cheeky Manc chappy Liam Gallagher takes a second bite of the apple with the ingeniously titled BE.
Released 10 June, 2013
Beady Eye, Columbia Records.
“Liam Gallagher warns off neighbourhood ‘tramp’ who puts crutches in his bin”, “Liam Gallagher ‘tries to ride dog after drinking champagne in London pub’” and “Liam Gallagher nearly killed by blue peanut M&M” are just a selection of NME’s headlines of late. It can only mean one thing. The most outspoken, opinion-polarising frontman in music has a new record to promote.
BE is the follow-up to 2011 debut Different Gear, Still Speeding, an album that didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but was at least more interesting than Oasis’ later derivative work. With TV on the Radio’s David Sitek on production duties this time around, could we actually have on our hands a quality Beady Eye record?
Opening track ‘Flick of the Finger’ seems to suggest so; pounding drums hurtle the track forward like a runaway train, and a prominent brass section layers powerful horns over fierce guitar from Andy Bell. The track closes with a spoken word passage quoting French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, injecting a dose of drama and bravado. It’s a real statement of intent from the much-criticised band, and opens the album with typical Gallagher swagger. Whilst it’s true that anyone can sound good with a brass band behind them (Robbie Williams’ strangely-listenable Swing When You’re Winning is a prime example), it has to be said that Liam’s vocals are finally delivered with less of that insufferable nasality; it’s the best he’s sounded since Morning Glory.
‘Soon Come Tomorrow’ is another highlight, with a delicate vocal performance that belies his usual rock n’ roll snarl. In fact the track is so pleasantly polished that some rather dubious lyrics can be overlooked, in particular the line where Liam feels the need to offer some respiratory advice: “Breathe in, breathe out and then breathe in again”. Thanks for the reminder.
Elsewhere, the album is unfortunately (but perhaps predictably) padded out with the same forgettable songs that populated its predecessor; ‘Iz Rite’ is as cringe-worthy as the spelling of its title suggests, and ‘Shine a Light’ misses a golden opportunity for a trademark ‘SHEEIIINNEEEE’ howl. ‘Don’t Brother Me’ brings the infamous sibling rivalry back to the forefront, making no effort whatsoever to disguise the message it’s trying to convey: “I’m sick of all your lying / Scheming and your crying”. Liam never was great with subtlety. The song itself is instantly forgettable and, clocking in at over 7 minutes, it suffers from the same over-indulgence that Oasis’ 1997 album Be Here Now was slated for.
While still bereft in originality and severely lacking in the lyrics department, the album is unquestionably an improvement over their debut. Little by little, the band are moving in the right direction.