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.