Ah, Liam Gallagher. We’d missed him since his now-infamous spat with Peter Kay at the Brit Awards in February 2010, and has been in the dark about his new, dubiously-named post-Oasis outfit Beady Eye for months – that is, until mid-November shone in a new era with their first released song, ‘Bring The Light’. (I will now refrain from making light/dark puns – Ed.) The NME community were up in arms over it. They criticised the lyrics, the tune and, most of all, Gallagher himself; “Noel should be making the music; Liam should be making clothes”, said one comment. “christ liam learn to write a song”, another articulately stated, perhaps so incensed by Gallagher’s lack of songwriting nous that its author forgot the existence of punctuation. (I digress.)
Now, although I am still fond of Oasis, I have come to terms with the fact that the majority of songs on Oasis’ last five studio albums were filler dirges. Their last effort, 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul, had a good first half. Their first post-millennial album, Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, was intermittently good – even somewhat underrated. But the second half of Dig, the other parts of Giants, a lot of Don’t Believe The Truth and pretty much all of Heathen Chemistry and Be Here Now (one of the most legendary turds of an album in recent history) are dire. I think it’s fair to say that the Oasis community who are so offended by Noel’s non-presence in Beady Eye are being rather hypocritical. Yes, Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? are bona fide classics, but Noel’s best days appear to be far, far behind him. The fact that he wrote ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and ‘Wonderwall’ excuses him from his latter day crimes to some extent, but those who are calling for Liam’s head seem to have forgotten the more dismal moments of Noel’s songwriting career, which hit a low with the entirely pointless ‘(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady’ on Dig. Liam’s songwriting track record with Oasis was rather unpredictable; to go from writing ‘Little James’, quite possibly the worst song they ever recorded, to the lovely ‘I’m Outta Time’ in eight years is a remarkable journey.
So, having proven to some extent that Noel Gallagher is far overrated, I’ll review his little brother’s attempt at flying the Oasis nest. Unlike many, I don’t think ‘Bring The Light’ is a pant-wettingly-hilarious catastrophe, nor something that signals the end of alternative music (for God’s sake! Oasis weren’t exactly cutting-edge to begin with) – but my expectations were not, it is fair to say, particularly high. After all, while he may have redeemed himself with ‘I’m Outta Time’, it’s still schmaltzy, as is his other single contribution, ‘Songbird’, which sounds like a chirpier (pun not intended) prototype of Mumford and Sons. ‘Ain’t Got Nothin’ is fairly dire. With such a hit-and-miss copybook, and the increasingly sluggish pace of Oasis’ later albums, I was never greatly enthused by the thought of what I assumed would be a dreadfully base rip-off of something from the middle of Heathen Chemistry, which is not a compliment in the slightest. So imagine my surprise to hear a sound that resembled more Jerry Lee Lewis than ‘Little By Little’ – a jaunty ditty with a piano riff that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the 1950s. Its lyrics are reliably mundane and the chorus in particular largely repetitive, I agree. But then again, so were most of Noel’s lyrics post-Definitely Maybe. Admittedly, to my memory he never sank to the level of populism which requires the apparently romantic epithet ‘baby’ to be used, but in any case, the tune is catchy enough for this to be overlooked somewhat. I liked the departure from Oasis’s extremely tired flogging of the Beatles, and indeed from the limping pace that bedevilled many of their later efforts (listen to ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ to see what I mean). It was a pleasant surprise that they came up with a song you can dance to. There’s even a gospel choir.
It was never going to set the world alight, though – they’re getting too old to sing “I’m going out, I’m takin’ ya drinking” with much conviction. While there’s not a sniff of ‘Hey Jude’ inspiration to be found in it, it still lacks originality – see the Jerry Lee Lewis reference – and oddly enough, something else that troubled Oasis towards the end of their career is replaced by the opposite problem. His voice. A love of cigarettes and alcohol (see what I did there?) turned what began as a clear snarl into a tuneless, gnarled whine over the years, but now – having presumably cut down on cancer-sticks – he sounds too articulate in the line “we’ll fuck it up”. Listen to the emphasis on the ejective at the end. It’s too articulate to be sincere! I doubt that Liam Gallagher has often been on the end of criticism regarding over-articulacy, but this always catches me when I listen to ‘Bring The Light’.
So, in conclusion, it’s alright. Better than expected for me for sure, better than many post-millennial Oasis songs, but not up to the level of Oasis’ first two albums. Is anything, though? I suppose we’ll just have to see how the rest of Beady Eye’s songs pan out before we can truly judge them…