There’s talk of lyrics about Noel. There’s talk that it’s the most far out Liam’s gone since he gave up sandbag-sized portions of illegal substances up his conk. There’s talk that there’s a guest vocal from Justin Bieber, now Liam’s a confirmed Belieber (OK, there isn’t that). But there are a heck of a lot of questions about what Beady Eye’s second album, ‘BE’, out June 10, contains. I had an early listen to find out what’s what…
This, you’ll know. You’ll know that it’s probably the furthest out Liam’s gone, musically, since ‘Be Here Now’. But it’s rather more enjoyable – brass from the people who do brass for Spiritualized and Primal Scream, spoken word bit read out by, erm, Fonejacker, this really is something new. As is Liam’s voice – mixed high and dry through the album, it sounds like he’s been gargling honey since the throat-rip ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ sessions.
Listeners might be expecting the floodgates to open after ‘Flick Of The Finger’, which guitarist Gem Archer has called the “calling card” of the band’s new era. However, ‘Soul Love’ is restrained, despite a world of sounds from producer Dave Sitek bubbling under the sinister chords. Muffled shotgun sounds and velvet-y organ presses whip up a feeling of intense mystery as Liam croons, “Get up off your knees my friend, promise never to pretend you’re the apple of my eye, spread your wings and learn to fly.” We’re a long way from ‘Four Letter Word’ here.
On which the first truly big riff kicks in. And boy does it kick in – right from the off, then repeats, non-stop, relentlessly as this Beatles-y burble careers along. Liam sings of “playing to the gallery when you know it’s time to face the crowd” over Stonesy handclaps, with a Zeppy wig-out from Gem Archer. There’s just enough time for a space-rock outro so we all know Sitek’s still in control, though…
With its gloomy, clickety-clackety percussion and more echo than your average airplane storage facility, somewhat brilliantly, second single ‘Second Bite Of The Apple’ sounds like something plucked from Eels’ back catalogue. It debuted last night (April 29), listen below:
The first obviously Oasis-esque song on the album, the gentle chords that brush through ‘Soon Comes Tomorrow’ draw a line back to the ‘…Morning Glory’ days. A country-ish momentum gathers quickly, however, and despite an extremely Our Kid-esque guitar squall solo the song ends up sounding like something pulled from the pocket of Ryan Adams rather than his good friend Noel G.
The upbeat strummer of the album, and despite its floaty production one on which more lines are drawn to Oasis. The cello flourishes plant a shadow memory of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, although admittedly this is a very stylistically different song. “When you call my name it takes away my pain, so only love remains… just say it again” Liam croons on the sunny chorus.
Sign up for the newsletter
After the feelgood vibes, there’s the fighting talk. “You might think the grass is greener, here I am on the other side,” he spits on the heaviest, most rollocking rock number on the album. A reference to Noel’s solo endeavours? Almost certainly. “A 20/20 visionary would never waste a single day,” he later states, then declares he’s “feeling fine, this is my time to shine. It’s not too late, the future’s getting underway.” He never was short on confidence, mind.
Don’t Brother Me
And after the fighting talk, is this the peace offering? It’s hard to tell. This song is obviously about Noel: “Always in the sun, with your Number One… sick of all your lying, your scheming and your crying,” Liam sings. And there’s the fact that he’s explicitly said it’s about Noel. But later, over heavy footstep crunch-effects and tightly-wound acoustics he asks him to, “Come on and give peace a chance, take my hand, be a man.” So, is Noel invited round for Christmas or not, then?
Sandpaper-dry drums cut right through this fast-paced country-ish number, with just the odd Super Furry Animals-esque electro-squiggle here and there before a big, Lennon-flavoured piano drop. After repeated invitations to “Come on, shine a light,” Liam implores us to “Universalise”. Now that is an awesome new word.
Dare we suggest this one’s about Noel too? “Did you ever loan me that song? Did you ever know me at all? Listen to the world going round, looking through a hole in the wall… shoving our loving away… never once looking to say, we got the ride of our lives,” Liam sings on the most production-bare song on the album, with barely more than acoustic guitar for him to bed his vocals on. To be fair this song could be about some girlfriend or other he had in his teens, but hey.
A real sun-through-the-shrubs moment, as uplifting organs underpin Liam singing, “Help me understand, take me as I am, I change my point of view, anything for you.” Wind sweeps through Glasvegas-y guitar washes, the gentle acoustic kicks back and forth, and we end on one of the most tender moments Liam’s ever helmed. The last line he sings on album? “Come on take a chance and start anew, me and you, me and you…” Dare we suggest that it too is directed at a certai… OK, sorry, just draw your own conclusions, eh?
Pick up this week’s magazine for an exclusive interview with Liam Gallagher