Review Summary: Liam & Co. choose not to look back in anger
The news of Oasis’ demise was met with two distinct reactions. One was a hearty rejoicing; the end of the Beatles wannabe, tabloid-baiting carnival. The other was of a regret that, despite their many faults, a great and memorable group had passed on. When it was revealed that Liam Gallagher and company had reformed under a different moniker and were in the midst of planning an album there was amusement all round. There was surprise that the otherwise reliable Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock would side with Liam, a man whose reputation preceded him and who could be deemed responsible for Oasis’ more controversial moments.
Beady Eye has been awaited in some corners with a sense of rubbernecking voyeurism. For every listener hoping for a smooth and blitzing debut you could count on two others who would just love to see this project fail. It’s bad news for the latter this time, as Different Gear, Still Speeding
is a fun, raucous and lovingly imperfect opening salvo.
With all of the attention being lavished on Liam, it’s easy to forget that Beady Eye is also comprised of three very able musicians. Guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell plied their trade with indie stalwarts Heavy Stereo and Ride respectively and drummer Chris Sharrock is notable for his role in The La’s, one of Merseyside’s finest groups of the past few decades. Their experience and talent is put to good use here.
Opener “Four Letter Word” explodes with reckless abandon and sounds like a Bond theme in the making. Liam is on top form, declaring with spiteful glee that “nothing ever lasts forever.” It stands as both a clarion call and defining statement for Beady Eye. This is a group that, despite their wealth and experience, see themselves as underdogs and revel in that status. This idea of wealth is belittled in the following track “Millionaire”, with Liam mocking a character whose “faded glamour’s out of season” over a country-fried acoustic tune.
The Gallagher brothers always wore their influences on their sleeves and detractors used it as a stick to beat them with. They were regularly chided as derivative and unoriginal but Beady Eye have created a subtle mix of different flavours with liberal sprinklings of past and present styles. Their debut single “Bring The Light” is a joyful slice of 60s pop replete with honky-tonk piano, a heavenly chorus of backing singers and, some lame lyrics aside, is one of the album’s brightest moments. “Beatles And Stones”, as well as name-checking two of the group’s more apparent influences, is unnervingly similar to “My Generation”. Liam quite confidently and arrogantly declares himself to be able to “stand the test of time like Beatles and Stones.” It’s the boldest of claims but on this evidence you can just about believe it to be true. However, if they continue to produce songs like the fey and uninspiring “For Anyone” with its sickly sweet summery vibe and the leaden “The Roller”, an obvious single yet still a bad choice due to its ambiguous lyrics and distinct lack of melody, then they might not be long for this earth. The album’s finale is the woozy, progressive and psychedelic ballad “The Morning Son.” Despite a grammatical howler (“The morning son has rose”) it’s a fitting end to an album that wouldn’t be right if it was flawless.
Cynics can say that Beady Eye are just playing Oasis’ B-list material and that there’s nothing new here. One listen to this album though and you come to realise that its Noel’s absence that has made it. His miserable and cynical attitude would have put paid to numbers like “Bring The Light” and “Four Letter Word” and whilst the album isn’t perfect, it retains an ideal of love, care and attention that Oasis had been missing for a good few years before their split.