Release Date: Nov 19, 2013
Record label: Dangerbird Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, British Trad Rock
How muted was the reaction to Beady Eye's 2011 debut Different Gear, Still Speeding? It was so underwhelming -- and so clearly overshadowed by rival Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds later in 2011 -- that even Liam Gallagher, that torchbearer of everything that's real in rock & roll, agreed it was time for a new set of threads, so he and the rest of the gang turned to somebody unexpected: renowned indie-art rocker Dave Sitek, a member of TV on the Radio and producer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals, Thee Oh Sees, Liars, and Scarlett Johansson, otherwise known as a list of artists neither Beady Eye nor their audience have ever heard. Such a clear disconnect could be a formula for dissonance, but that's not the case on BE, as the two parties are united by a clear-eyed view of what they're here to do. They're not reinventing Beady Eye, they're merely applying a new coat of paint to a well-worn structure.
The problem with Beady Eye is they were born with a point to prove – but only to their lead singer. The band’s debut album ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ matched or exceeded most people’s tempered expectations for it, but only Liam Gallagher ever seriously entertained the notion that they would become “bigger than Oasis”, and only Liam would have been surprised when Noel’s record outstripped their own, critically and commercially. Clearly, when you’ve spent all of your adult life in one of the biggest bands in the world, the indignity of being in Just Another One takes some getting used to.
Remembered by '90s nostalgists in North America for their heartfelt sing-alongs and cocksure swagger, in reality, Oasis have always felt like a blemish at home in the UK, coming across more like Britain's answer to Nickelback than the second-coming of classic rock. Because of this, it's hard to fault Beady Eye (the Brit-pop act fronted by Liam Gallagher and Oasis's remaining members) for delivering such a forgettable effort with their 2011 debut, Different Gear, Still Speeding, after Noel decided to dissolve the original band. After all, this was a group of guys who would have likely been content playing "Rock 'N' Roll Star" for the rest of their lives.
Bad news for those haters of arrogant, backward-looking lad rock, whose hopes were raised a month ago when Liam Gallagher suggested he might quit music if the new album by his band Beady Eye flopped like its predecessor did two years ago. BE is surprisingly, relatively, rather good and should extend the band’s career. Though not as terrible as some claimed, their post-Oasis debut album, the ploddingly predictable Different Gear, Still Speeding, was seemingly driven on auto-pilot and heading straight down a musical cul-de-sac.
After criticism of Beady Eye's unadventurous debut, Liam Gallagher and co have brought in production whizz Dave Sitek for a sonic revamp. In come motorik krautrock/Velvet Underground rhythms, a brass band, disoriented guitars and an eerie narrative on man's capacity for destruction featuring the words of a murdered French Revolutionary. Even the conventional acoustic strum Soul Love has a discordant countermelody that shouldn't work, yet lifts the song beautifully.
How long can the Gallagher brothers engage in this tiresome game of side-project chicken? Technically, Liam’s band Beady Eye and Noel’s High Flying Birds aren’t side projects-- we're supposed to believe that these indifferently received endeavors are decisive steps away from their busted-up partnership in Oasis, which was still one of the world’s more reliable arena-filling rock bands at the time of its dissolution in 2009. But Liam and Noel can’t help sounding like incomplete halves in search of a lost whole when apart. On Beady Eye’s 2011 debut Different Gear Still Speeding, Liam had the attitude but not the songs; Noel’s High Flying Birds had the songs but not the attitude.
Some people hate surprises. They eat the same breakfast every day and shop at the same market because they always have. Some people have been watching the same soap opera play out on the daytime television wasteland for decades. And some people will buy and enjoy the new Beady Eye record. The band ….
Liam Gallagher talks a good game. It’s one of his strengths. So let’s be equally upfront, Gallagher Junior’s first post-Oasis effort Different Gear, Still Speeding was a modest success at best. Songs like “Bring the Light” and “Beatles & Stones” rattled their nouveau riche jewelry with admirably youthful aplomb but little stuck to the soul long-term.
Review Summary: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blindEven if you do live on a cave on mars with your fingers in your ear (though I hear it’s lovely this time of year), you’ll probably be aware that Mr. Liam Gallagher is something of an incendiary type.It might be for show, it might be that he actually is just a massive dickhead; but whether it is for trying or otherwise, he really does get under people’s skin. Even as Oasis tried and repeatedly failed to ‘break’ America (you never hear that phrase anymore, do you?), our fair isle’s cousins still roll their eyes to this day at the mention of his name.
Ever get the feeling you’ve been duped? News emerged that one Dave Sitek – he of progressive popsters TV on the Radio, producer for the likes of Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Foals as well as his own band, was set to work with Beady Eye. That’s the Beady Eye of Liam Gallagher, a sort of pseudo Oasis, him having brought Gem Archer, Andy Bell and touring drummer Chris Sharrock along for the ride, just without, well, Noel. It was an announcement to raise more than a few eyebrows; a suspicion that continued apace with the brassy, pounding drums of ‘Flick Of The Finger’, the first song to be unveiled from the band’s second album and follow-up to 2011’s ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’: ‘BE’.
What's depressing about Beady Eye's second album – the moment when, if they're serious about this venture, they really ought to have put their balls on the line – is the utter predictability of the way it's unfolded. Those who sputter and rail in Mr Agreeable fashion against that most reviled of ungenres, 'lad rock', wheel out their ill-thought-through righteous indignation once more, while Gallagher lovers strap themselves up for one more bout of charitably measured head-nodding. And it could've, should've been so different.