When everything is said and done, Beady Eye will always be remembered as the band that 3/4ths of Oasis formed after Oasis imploded. Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, and Andy Bell added Chris Sharrock to play drums, and enlisted esteemed producer Steve Lilywhite to announce themselves to the world on their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding. In interviews, Liam (the last of the great rock stars) has proclaimed the album would be better than Oasis’ landmark debut Definitely Maybe. The truth is, Different Gear, Still Speeding isn’t even close to that album’s highs, but it represents a clear break from the Oasis of old, and that in itself should be seen as a victory.
The album in itself, is actually, believe it or not, a breath of fresh air compared to other albums released by some of their contemporaries. What makes it so, is the sheer belief that the band performs the tracks, especially Liam. The singer’s grizzled bleating is always familiar, but he sounds like he has a new sense of purpose. Put simply, he hasn’t sung this well in a very, very long time. The songwriting is split fairly evenly between Archer, Bell and Gallagher as they all share credit on every track. The tunes actually have some surprises in store. At thirteen tracks the album is, overall, fair. But if it had been trimmed to eight or nine, it could have been a true stunner.
“Four Letter Word” is a winner, with a heavyish riff and a pulsating drive. Liam brays “Nothing ever lasts forever!” and you can only feel like he’s screaming at his brother and the legions of Oasis’ fans. “Millionaire” is a California sweet acoustic ditty that would never have found its way on an Oasis album. Lead single “The Roller” cribs the chords from the Beatles “All You Need is Love”, to fair effect. The lyrics are typical Oasis blather, and the song is a bit of a slog. “Beatles and Stones” isn’t nearly as bad as a first glance at the title would imply. Its a bouncy rocker, with Liam pleading to “stand the test of time, like Beatles and Stones.” “Wind Up Dream” opens with a pseudo- psychedelic riff before devolving into a plodding meaningless pile of….well you get the idea. When thinking of songs they could have cut, this tops the list as filler. “Bring the Light” is a piano rocker, reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis (really!), and features a sauntering Liam vocal; all attitude and sneer. “For Anyone” is a sweet acoustic track, but would have been better left on the cutting room floor.
“Kill For a Dream” cribs from the Beatles, but actually ends up being a winner with its soaring chorus, and a sweet Liam vocal. “Standing on the Edge of Noise” is a slight, spiky riffed tune that, again, should have been cut immediately. “Wigwam”, with its layered synths and Verve-like groove is a slow, psychedelic winner; Liam’s voice goes places it hasn’t in fifteen years, as the layers of vocals pile up. “Three Ring Circus” picks up the pace, though in a muted way. The song itself is immediately unmemorable in almost every way. The albums final two tracks are perhaps the best on the album. “The Beat Goes On” is a sunny ballad that wins on its positivity, despite its hackneyed lyrics. This track is one of many that represent the aforementioned clear break with the Oasis of old. “The Morning Son” features Liam’s echoed vocals and a true psychedelic break. The track’s energy is impressive, to say the least.
Different Gear, Still Speeding isn’t, by any means, a masterpiece. It’s too long, and can grow tiresome if listening with unattentive ears. But, disaster has clearly been averted here. The album is quite fun in places, and shows some actual songwriting acumen form Liam Gallagher. Time will only tell how long Beady Eye will exist, or even if they can make a better album. But, their debut shows enough promise (surprisingly) that this writer is actually looking forward to their second album.