If Beady Eye's first album Different Gear Still Speeding sounded like the musical equivalent of when a teacher has walked out of a classroom for five minutes, then the minimally titled BE is certainly the sound of the teacher walking back in; sitting up straight, arms folded and listening to instructions. With no Noel around to provide a human filter, Beady Eye's début found itself in pastiche mode with Beatles and Stones, The Roller etc.; it was a notable step back from the last Oasis LP, Dig Out Your Soul, which is why it was so refreshing to hear that Liam and co. had called in the innovative producer Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio) to twiddle the knobs on this second effort from the Oasis remainders.
Sure, there are a few Lennon moments here or there, but you knew that, right? And this time they are few and far between. Instead, what we are treated to is an album that surprises at every opportunity. The Production is atmospheric and intriguing, while the song writing owes more to grooves than riffs, leaving a far more contemporary taste in the mouth.
First track Flick of the Finger puts the listener in his or her place with immediate effect, trumpets and repetitive drums open this album rather than heavy guitars; it's nearly a minute before Liam sneers through the fog of horns and gives Gem and Andy Bell the nod to get involved.
Despite its lyrical clunkiness, Second Bite of the Apple follows a similar suit and slots in next to the album's opener nicely. 'Shake my tree, where's the apple for me?' is possibly the worst lyric Liam has uttered since the days of Little James, but the minimalism of the track and the change of pace make up for its nursery rhyme commentary. Again, Sitek introduces the trumpets to great effect - I suppose if you've paid you might as well get your money's worth?
The album proves it can provide quality at any pace. The moody, acoustic Soul Love presents a break between trumpet affairs and injects a well needed dose of variation to proceedings. The same can be said about Soon Come Tomorrow; again, Sitek has stripped down production on the vocal and left Liam's voice over the top of some melodic acoustic chord progressions to great effect.
There are, of course, moments on BE where Beady Eye slip back into bad habits (Face the Crowd and Ballroom Figured, for example), however one track that falls into the category of 'Oasis by numbers' and yet still comes out with its credibility intact is Just Sayin'. It moves at a ferocious pace and benefits from large doses of attitude and swagger, which, let's face it, is what Liam Gallagher does best.
BE is the sound of a band that have outgrown their past and moved away from an overly retrospective straitjacket. This time round, the former Oasis boys have delivered an album of variation and maturity. Admittedly, they are given more than a helping hand from producer Dave Sitek along the way, his production is adventurous and unpredictable, gifting the album dimensions it would otherwise lack. But all in all, this is an album that offers Beady Eye a new lease of life.
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