Beady Eye Different Gear, Still Speeding(Beady Eye Records) Buy it from Insound
I thought I had this one all figured out before I’d even started listening. Different Gear, Still Speeding, I would say, is the final nail in the Oasis coffin. Without a big name to fall back on, the band’s woeful inadequacies of the sixteen years since (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? would be brutally exposed. Chart failure seems inevitable, I would continue, and what remains of the band since Noel’s departure may finally decide to call it a day.
I, like many people, used to think Oasis were the greatest band in the world. And it’s fair to say that if you’ve been there, it doesn’t matter how many Radiohead records you listen to - the first two Oasis albums hold a special place in British music history that is pretty much unparalleled by any band of the last two decades. But after the initial warning signs of the so-so Be Here Now, the band entered into a sorry downward slide into self-parody and artistic insignificance.
There is a small problem with my pre-assessment of this record, however: some of this is not bad - not bad at all. Opening track Four Letter Word bursts into life with a zest and swagger rarely heard since Definitely Maybe; with Mark Coyle’s production, it could probably be on that album. In Millionaire, eastern-inspired guitars perfectly complement a refreshingly lively melody from Liam, who sounds better than he has in years. And the chorus to The Roller boasts something of the singalong quality that early Oasis used to bring in abundance.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves: this is not a return to former glories. It shares nothing of the irresistible energy, nor the cultural relevance, of Oasis’ first two LPs. Liam has not yet managed to channel the spirit of John Lennon, much as he’d like to. And truth be told, it still owes a hell of a lot to Gallagher & co.’s limited choice of influences. But this is not Oasis - it’s Beady Eye, and there is a tangible difference between the two. Free of the constraints of Noel Gallagher’s creative control over the band, it seems that maybe Noel was the problem all along.
That’s not to say the record isn’t without its faults. After the initial nostalgic reverie of the opening three tracks follows the sobering comedown. First single Bring The Light is Status Quo gone honky-tonk, made even more cringeworthy with inane lyrics like “Baby hold on, baby come on”. Beatles And Stones is a ridiculous collage of rock n’ roll cliché, immediately ripping off My Generation by The Who before taking the listener on a guided tour of tired allusions to the 60s. Unashamed lifting of ideas, invented decades ago and rehashed countless times since, litter this album like cups of piss at Knebworth 1996. At times it’s so blatant that you’re sure they’re joking around. They probably are.
Different Gear, Still Speeding could be a good album if they just scaled things down a bit. Clocking in at just over 51 minutes, it feels a great deal longer. But you feel that the band’s notoriously resilient self-belief will prevent them from ever making anything you could call modest. Over to you then, Noel.1 March, 2011 - 12:10 — Joel Stanier