People Who Are Addicted To Music
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. BE feels familiar — the group is stuck in the back-half of the ’60s, naturally loving the post-Pepper pomp of the Beatles but happy to crib from the Zombies (“Second Bite of the Apple” opens with a riff adapted from “Time of the Season”) or any other number of half-remembered, half-forgotten psychedelic oldies — but isn’t musty, thanks in part to Sitek‘s colorful, layered production. It’s busy enough to keep BE skipping along — there are far more tempos here than there are on the stately High Flying Birds — but it’s not fussy, partially due to the immediacy inherent in Liam Gallagher‘s voice, partially due to the open, airy sound that floats and coaxes and never hammers. At times, the reckless rush that powered such Different Gear songs as “Bring the Light” is missed — this never, ever quite rocks, not even when “Face the Crowd” announces itself with a flurry of pinging, punchy chords — but what is gained is imagination, along with some degree of subtlety that feels new coming from veterans of Oasis. And that doesn’t go just for the members of Beady Eyes themselves: compared to Noel‘s High Flying Birds, BE is lithe and bright, and sonically seductive in a way HFB never attempts. That said, for as appealing BE is on its surface, it remains evident that none of the members of Beady Eye are capable of crafting a sturdy composition like the estranged Noel Gallagher. Liam and Andy Bell are workmanlike writers, while Gem Archer, the member with the dodgiest pedigree, writes the two best songs here, “Second Bite of the Apple” and the candied “Iz Rite,” but they don’t linger in the mind the way Noel‘s songs do. Nevertheless, Beady Eye does something Noel does not (at least not yet): they can deliver a pure pop rush with an insouciant flair. Perhaps they’re happily stuck in the past, but there’s no denying that when they have a hook or melody — and when they have a savvy producer like Sitek supporting them — they deliver the retro goods.