Let’s get one thing clear: even with a nearly identical roster, Beady Eye is not Oasis. With the departure of songwriter Noel Gallagher (brother of lead singer Liam Gallagher), the music style is similar but by no means the same. In place of ambitious anthems and lofty ballads, the leftover band members deliver music that is uncomplicated and fun. The characteristic Beatles influence is still there, but think more “Revolution” than “Hey Jude.” The result is an album that is less of a direct descendant from the British billboard commandeers and more of an estranged relative with a new groove.
Different Gear, Still Speeding
Different Gear, Still Speeding proves, if nothing else, that Liam is gifted enough to survive without the tumultuous relationship that constituted the brothers’ bond (as the title clearly hints). It’s his own brand of prog rock — the album never approaches the blockbuster potential that was unleashed with “Wonderwall” — but the style is still unique and engaging. The tempo is quick and spirited, with a clearer Rolling Stones rock‘n’roll tinge that is essentially summarized by track “Beatles and Stones.”
Opening track “Four Letter Word” accentuates carefree playfulness through a din of cymbals and guitars. (Hint: The titular word is “love.”) It fittingly sets the tone for an ensuing array of merriment. “The Roller,” which peaked high in European single charts, contains traces of the patented Oasis infectiousness that once constantly hooked the British Isles. Later on the record, “The Beat Goes On” veers in a different direction — or perhaps in a different gear — but shows that Liam can still make a viable ballad, and that he isn’t forced into a new genre by the absence of his songwriter brother. Different Gear doesn’t slow down until this peaceful but mournful track, giving it the feeling of a high-speed car chase that’s winding down to a serene and somber conclusion.
Though Beady Eye’s debut release doesn’t run into any fatal flaws, that’s not to say that it works top to bottom. For all his success, Liam occasionally lacks melodic variation — “Three Ring Circus” sounds like “The Roller” retooled — which may lead to the conclusion that Noel did contribute to Liam’s songwriting talent. Additionally, Different Gear never gambles past its initial change in style, which strips it of the opportunity to achieve the big hits the band members had grown accustomed to in previous years. But these problems could be indicative of the difficulty in starting anew, so it might be best to chalk them up to a few preliminary bumps in the road.
Still, Different Gear shows a lot of promise, and more than suggests the band can make it past the desertion of Noel Gallagher. What the listener will ultimately take away from the album is charm, and unlike Oasis, it never takes itself too seriously. Instead of the typical Beatles vs. Stones argument, Beady Eye has taken cues from both bands, crafting an intricate amalgamation with the roughness of the Stones and the precision of the Beatles.