Album: Different Gear, Still Speeding
Artist: Beady Eye
Released: February 28th, 2011
Highlights: Four Letter Word, The Roller, Kill For a Dream, The Beat Goes On
Although his voice lent relentless defiance to the songs that served as the soundtrack for the teenage years and early adulthood of a generation, Liam Gallagher never really was Oasis’ greatest talent, as all melodies and lyrics that propelled the group to super-stardom had come from his older brother’s brain. That is the reason why Beady Eye is such an utterly intriguing concept, as the group’s line-up can be described as Oasis without Noel Gallagher, the man responsible for – even in the band’s more collaborative final two efforts – creating most of the tunes. The question that arrives attached to “Different Gear, Still Speeding”, Beady Eye’s debut, then, is whether the remaining bits of the Britpop phenomenon would drown or float without their former creative leader, and it does not take long into the album to realize that neither answer is thoroughly correct.
“Different Gear, Still Speeding” has little to none of the pop-rock subtleties that marked most of Oasis’ numbers; as it turns out, Liam Gallagher is way too driven by instinct to have the time to stop and pay attention to any of that. That is why even though “Different Gear, Still Speeding” is not an album comprised exclusively of loud straight-up rock tracks, it feels like a record done with feeling rather than one created through an extensive thoughtful approach, a tactic that has the benefit of making the music sound almost unanimously fun, but whose downside is the quality slips it causes. In a way, it is “Be Here Now”, Oasis’ loosest and most overblown work, without the absurd indulgence of a modern rock mammoth that has run out of control, but with songwriting that is far more irregular.
“Different Gear, Still Speeding” has its shining moments: the violent riffs of “Four Letter Word”, which support a Liam Gallagher that comes off as the vocal representation of a mighty force of nature; “The Roller”, a perfect bubblegum piece of pop-rock music that could comfortably sit, even in terms of quality, in either “Definitely Maybe” or “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?”; and the gorgeous balladry of “Kill For a Dream” and “The Beat Goes On”. Its lesser moments, some of which are plain bad and others that are merely average, tend to be saved by the fact that the album shows a band that is surprisingly flexible, albeit one that never truly transforms its influences into something completely fresh or remarkable.
“Millionaire” is a decent swing at writing a song built on a variation of traditional blues’ progressions; “Beatles and Stones” is a fun rock track that name-drops the boys from London and Liverpool, but that actually borrows its angular riff from The Who’s “My Generation”; “Bring the Light” has enough Rockabilly blood in it to make Jerry Lee Lewis climb on top of his piano; and “For Anyone” could be a mid-tempo acoustic song from one The Beatles’ first five records. “Different Gear, Still Speeding” is not excellent and might not have enough juice in it to even qualify as a great album, but it is a fun, honest, and energetic attempt by Archer, Bell, and Gallagher to keep on rolling following Noel’s abandoning of the ship.