Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding

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Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past 18 months, you will have heard of Beady Eye, the new rock and roll outfit formed out of the ashes of Oasis. The band, named so as to appear as close as possible to The Beatles in alphabetised music collections, features all but lead songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher from the multi-million selling Manchester group, who officially called it quits in August 2009 after a backstage altercation with younger brother Liam.

Beady Eye’s first offering is Different Gear, Still Speeding, a collection of 13 songs written by the core lineup of Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer and Andy Bell. The album has been hugely anticipated since the project was announced shortly after the split, and it is surprisingly acceptable considering the hype it received. When ‘Bring the Light’ was released as a taster way back in November, critics and punters yawned at the track’s general blandness and cringed at the cheesy piano and backing vocals accompanying Gallagher’s trademark whine. The album, though, is surprisingly exciting and diverse after only a few listens. Liam and co. offer a different spin on the Oasis ‘chords and noise’ formula of years past, showcasing their songwriting abilities beyond such mundane numbers as ‘Songbird’, ‘Keep the Dream Alive’ and ‘To Be Where There’s Life’ of latter albums by the Noel crew.

While the band have not dumped the tried-and-tested approach of combining a simple, approachable melody with straightforward, digestable lyrics, a number of songs actually contain some element of excitement: upbeat album opener ‘Four Letter Word’, for example, features some ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’-esque electric guitar fills and a guitar solo after just a verse and a chorus. ‘Standing on the Edge of the Noise’ is another hard-rocker, with the simple hook “Get you/You got me/I’m standing on the edge of the noise” keeping you in touch as a listener. Aside from the fact that it lifts the riff straight out of The Who’s flagship anthem ‘My Generation’ and Liam’s arrogant insistence that he will “stand the test of time”, ‘Beatles and Stones’ is also a well-delivered tune.

It’s not all aggression and swagger, however, with somewhere around half of the album being marked by acoustic guitars and delightful melodies. The band’s charismatic frontman almost sounds like a normal singer on ‘Millionaire’; ‘For Anyone’ could easily pass as a child’s nursery rhyme; and ‘Kill for a Dream’ salutes to the sweeter moments of 21st-century Oasis, particularly Don’t Believe the Truth. This variation in sound makes for a fine listen, although the record could perhaps be criticised for fading out somewhere around song ten.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Strengths: The songs are easy to listen to, with approachable lyrics and diverse compositions; the material is enough of a change of pace from Oasis to warrant recognition.

Weaknesses: Songs written by Liam are always going to be criticised for being boring, and this album does age quite quickly; too many of the tracks are unnoticeable and lift right out.

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14 Comments

  1. avatar
    James Dennis on

    Great article and I totally agree with the rating – it shouldn’t be underrated but at the same time it does have a shelf-life.

  2. avatar
    Dom Kullander on

    Nice article dude, I’ve had the album on repeat for about 5 days now, glad I’m not the only one to notice the strategic iTunes placement next to Paul, John and co. However, listening to Different Gear, Still Speeding has been a surreal experience for me as an ardent supporter of the band’s former incarnation.
    ‘Beatles and Stones’ is, as you say, a shameless rip from The Who. However, the song lacks the audacity and conviction of former ‘cover’ songs, namely ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ and ‘Shakermaker’. Not that I’m comparing Beady Eye to Definitely Maybe, but the steadfast assertion that Liam will ‘stand the test of time’ is certainly not enhanced by this tune. Maybe Noel would have penned things far more sufficiently?
    I’m surprised you omitted the gem ‘Wigwam’ from your consideration. At best, it’s faintly reminiscent of ‘I Am The Resurrection’, or the much-forgotten ‘Fade In-Out’ from Be Here Now, and certainly a highlight of the latter part of the album. Interesting to see how it plays out live.
    I’ll ignore the fact you called ‘Songbird’ mundane, and use it in comparison with the delightfully melodic ‘For Anyone’, a 2 minute wonder slap bang in the middle of the album. In the same way that ‘Songbird’ conjured sentiment that was familiar to millions through simply hacking at an open G, ‘For Anyone’ is a sign that Beady Eye have a tender underbelly to their hardened shell.
    It’s really difficult to rate this album as a debut given the circumstances of its creation. As an Oasis album, you’d have to say its a step backwards, but as Liam’s band its an absolute monument to the hazy nostalgia he was able to whip up in the 90s. The best moment of the album is surely the line ‘Somewhere in my heart/The beat goes on’. The most enigmatic frontman of the last 20 years refusing to do away with everything he preached? Inspiring. 8/10!!

    • avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Dom! Some very interesting points, I think. ‘Wigwam’ is a good song, yes, but I don’t remember it leaping out at me as something I should remember as a notable part of the overall listening experience (just like ‘Fade In-Out’). ‘Songbird’ is mundane in the fact that it only moves from G to Em and back again for a couple of minutes, although maybe I was a bit harsh as it is quite a nice song. ‘For Anyone’ is a really good song, and my comparison of that to a nursery rhyme was meant in a good way… somehow. I have also somewhat neglected the latter stages of the album, including ‘The Beat Goes On’ which, as you point out, is a pretty well-written song, a good listen.

      • avatar
        Dom Kullander on

        Revisit Wigwam, in particular after the breakdown on 3 minutes. Its a hidden gem.
        To call ‘Songbird’ mundane simply because it doesn’t utilise more than 3 chords is still fairly closed-minded, don’t forget that some of rock’s most catchy songs are written on next to no chords (Smells Like Teen Spirit, My Generation, Satisfaction etc), what makes a song engaging is the melody, the sentiment of the lyrics, the quality of the mix. Both ‘Songbird’ and ‘For Anyone’ have bags of swagger and soul, though I agree the latter does have a sing-song appeal to it.
        Also, go back to ‘Fade In-Out’. Possibly in my top 5 for Liam’s vocals, plus a cameo from Johnny Depp on bottle neck guitar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVpO172tr-4

        • avatar

          I am familiar with ‘Fade In-Out’, and while I don’t hate it, I sometimes choose to skip it on a Be Here Now listening sesh. ‘Wigwam’ I will revisit, and in that list of catchy songs you forgot the most obvious one… ‘Compton’. But anyway, yeah, thanks for the comment.

        • avatar
          James Dennis on

          Ok just tried to play both songs and remembered they only have one or the other!! Still there does seem to be a G or Em in almost every song!

          • avatar
            Dom Kullander on

            There are only a few notes to make chords with! Fair enough Noel doesn’t re-invent the wheel with his patterning, but that was partly the appeal of the band to me. Go through anyone’s back catalogue and you’re bound to see the same chords cropping up over and over.

          • avatar

            Yeah, although like I pointed out it is a tried-and-tested method, and all Oasis songs are very catchy. On the plus side, once you learn one Oasis track, you can play ’em all! Straight after ‘Wonderwall’ was released, ‘D’You Know What I Mean?’ was released as the lead single from Be Here Now. Both songs use literally the exact same chord structure… sigh.

  3. avatar
    Hayley Taulbut on

    Actually going to give this album a chance. I was at first going to write it off as shameless imitation, but your beautiful grammatically correct words have changed my mind. I’ll let you know if you are right.

  4. avatar
    An Avid Reader on

    A sterling review, you really captivate the essence of review writing! With a beginning, middle and end this truly is a review!

    8/10

    Strengths: It all makes sense

    Weaknesses: It ends 🙁

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