There are no prizes for guessing whose influence most greatly pervades Liam Gallagher’s first post-Oasis effort, and to call Beady Eye’s Different Gear, Still Speeding a Beatles-esque record is more than just a minor understatement. Indeed, this affair is no less Beatles-esque than Revolver or Abbey Road, though it rarely threatens to touch on their immeasurable quality. One can imagine Liam delivering each raspy couplet (some of which are far too easy: “In the eye of the storm, there’s no right and there’s no wrong”) with Lennon’s iconic round specs resting on his ample beak, working under the assumption that genius can somehow be reproduced or borrowed. His biggest task with Different Gear, Still Speeding is living up to his own self-righteous hype; he promises “the best record you’ll hear for the next 50 years” while the rest of the world expects to see him fall flat on his face without the guidance of older—and unquestionably wiser—brother Noel.
For the most part, the younger Gallagher’s troupe is in surprisingly strong form here, producing a more cohesive and engaging set of tracks than Oasis has in years. The album sashays through various styles lifted from the Beatles songbook, scoring highly with breezy ditties “Millionaire” and “For Anyone” before “Beatles and Stones” and “Bring the Light” explore giddy piano-heavy rock territory. “Millionaire” is an especially impressive number, mercifully light on Liam’s cocksure posturing and abrasive Mancunian snarl, sporting a superb slide guitar riff that acts as the secret behind the song’s wonderfully authentic psychedelic-folk twang.
It becomes impossible to ignore the embarrassingly blatant Beatles influences though. In its verses, “The Roller” sounds like a cover version of Lennon’s “Instant Karma,” while “Standing on the Edge of the Noise” is dangerously close to a beat-by-beat replica of “Get Back,” albeit with 40 years’ worth of gain and treble tacked on. And when sticking to modern musical trends, Different Gear, Still Speeding merely sounds underwhelming: Album opener “Four Letter Word” is a vacuous exercise in stomping orchestral rock, and “Kill for a Dream” plays like yet another lighters-aloft Noelrock anthem. Frankly, we’ve heard Liam straining his vocal cords over far too many of these assembly line numbers to be even remotely moved by this latest one.
Judging this Beady Eye debut without any preconceptions based on their polarizing frontman—be they positive or negative—will be difficult, but the vocal performances and songwriting should go some way to endearing even the staunchest detractors to the all-swaggering, piquant Mancunian.