Beady Eye: Different Gear, Still Speeding – review

(Beady Eye Records)

Last November, Beady Eye unveiled a free download called "Bring the Light". That the singer sounded a bit like John Lennon came as no surprise. Beady Eye, after all, are a substantial reincarnation of British rock overlords Oasis, whose adhesion to the songbook of Lennon and McCartney was as sticky as 40-year-old porridge.

When main-man Noel Gallagher left the band after one row too many with his younger brother in August 2009, the rump Oasis – Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock – didn't exactly ditch the band's modus operandi. Oasis-bar-one have a new name that, as Liam has noted, now locates them closer alphabetically to the Beatles than Oasis did. They have a new set of songs, unweighted by the baggage of Noel. These are called things such as "Beatles and Stones" and set out the band's mission statement thus: "Gonna stand the test of time/Like Beatles and Stones."

That ambition must remain moot for now, particularly since standing the test of time involves not only rehashing the songbooks of your idols, but setting iconoclastic light to it. But for one brief moment – the three minutes and 40 seconds duration of "Bring the Light" – it sounded like Beady Eye might actually find Liam et al reborn some way up rock's dharma scale. On it, the younger Gallagher sounds sweet and eager as he offers someone a rock'n'roll night out on the town. The Jerry Lee Lewis piano riff and some soulful backing singers make the whole idea seem just capital. More surprises like this would have made Different Gear, Still Speeding more than just an apposite quip (Liam's, incidentally).

Frustratingly, though, "Bring the Light" is quickly snuffed out in favour of the same-old, same-old. If forensic Gallagherologists listen hard, Different Gear, Still Speeding boasts little nuances that Noel might never have countenanced. But the precise triangulation of the vocals against the guitar in the mix isn't the stuff of which rock legend is made. The tunes? Oh, they're all right, if you are partial to latterday Oasis.

Beady Eye, then, do not look back in anger – they congenitally cannot – but mostly in mellow contemplation. And the bits of the 1960s and 1970s they choose to reiterate remain the least interesting episodes of those decades. They might essay a little psychedelia on tracks such as "Wigwam". But even a glam workout called "Standing on the Edge of the Noise" can't muster any significant noise, let alone any sense of brinkmanship.

The album's cover – a little girl, riding a crocodile – promises much: mischief, an absurdist take on the 60s, a laugh. "Bring the Light" made that hope manifest. But over the course of their overlong debut album, Beady Eye prove to be a little dull.

Liam is still in a lovely mood on "Millionaire", his Lennon sneer playful rather than hoarse, weaving around a mantric slide guitar riff. This lighter, freer, more genial Liam is a recurring presence on Different Gear…. It makes you wonder whether he was, in fact, snarling biliously at his brother for the past 15 years rather than the unbelievers.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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