Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding
How to review an album like this, the first release from an up-and-coming new band called Beady Eye? Never mind that three of the members, in particular the lead vocalist, used to be in this other band called Oasis. But then the singer broke his brother's guitar in a fit of pique, inconveniently right before a Paris gig, and that was that. So the little brother went and formed his own band, with himself assuming the role of leader for a change. Is it any good? Well...
Being the former members of one of the biggest British rock bands does have its perks to be sure. For one thing it can get you an opening slot for your pals Kasabian at Isle of Wight. Yet on the other hand you also have to deal with two groups of people. Two big groups of people. One desperately wants the music to be like your old band - big sing-along anthems like your brother wrote so well. The other side want you to fail. Miserably. So how do you review an album like Different Gear, Still Speeding? Do you try to pretend that the guy singing doesn't sound an awful lot like...who was it again? The fact is you can't. The two are inextricably linked, whether anyone likes it or not. So let's just cut to the chase: the album really isn't that bad.
The real genius of Oasis was that they only made two truly great albums, Definitely Maybe and What's The Story Morning Glory, yet they managed to eke out a pretty impressive career none-the-less. Different Gear... contains neither the towering anthems or beautiful rock ballads that Noel Gallagher was so adept at composing. It does however, have some niftily crafted pop tunes and that, for now, is enough.
If you skim the top of the album, the tunes seem fairly inoffensive: lightweight pop-rock sung in Liam's Lennon-esque growl. Yet if you listen closely to the lyrics, things start to get interesting. The album starts off well with the most Oasis-y sounding track on the album, 'Four Letter Word'. With Andy Bell back on guitar the song has a real strength and a catchy hook that will get the 30-somethings in the pit sobbing into their cups of beer in joy: "I don't know what it is I'm feeling / A four letter word really gets my meaning / Nothing ever lasts forever." 'Beatles and Stones' is Liam asserting his independence and defying his critics. The tune is fun and frolicking, Liam's vocals sure-fire and confident:"Well it freaks them mama, I'm not dong what I'm told / Well it freaks them mama / You know I can't be brought and sold / I'm gonna stand the test of time / Like Beatles and Stones." And he's probably right. 'Kill For A Dream' is a man opening up to his estranged brother. The mid-tempo music may be a bit uninspiring, yet the lyrics give the song a resonance that makes you forgive the blandness; "Life's too short not to forgive / You can carry regrets but they won't let you live / I'm here if you wanna call."
Last song 'Morning Son' is perhaps the most personal, and as a result the most moving song on the album. A lovely, understated ballad with acoustic guitar and a subdued arrangement highlighting Liam's vocal performance. Here is the surly, gruff, former Oasis front man wearing his heart on his sleeve, and if you don't think that take guts then you're wrong: "He's in my mind / He's in my soul / He's even in my rock and roll". Both 'Morning Son' and 'Kill For a Dream' sound like an open letter to a man whose presence is felt by his very absence. This is one reason why the album rises above mere mediocrity. This is the story so far, and you can't help but want to find out how it will all turn out.
Sure, not all songs are up to scruff. 'Three Ring Circus' falls a bit flat and the 'The Beat Goes On' is rather dull and lifeless. Beady Eye's strength is in the rockier numbers: 'Millionaire', 'The Roller' and 'Standing On The Edge of The Noise' are catchy and fun and will get the punters on their feet merrily throwing aforesaid cups of beer in wild abandon.
So there you have it. Not a crowning glory, but not an utter failure either. Maybe Noel has nothing to fear on the song writing front. Liam may never be the first rate tunesmith that he was, but when it comes to shear affability Liam wins hands down.