Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis project, Beady Eye, is more notable for what it isn’t than for what it is. The band’s debut, Different Gear Still Speeding, isn’t lacking the likeably dumb, bombastic arena-rock songs that distinguished Gallagher’s former band. In fact, Different Gear isn’t all that different from Oasis’ late-period albums, which suggests that Liam—aided by former Oasis members Andy Bell and Gem Archer—isn’t suffering in the absence of his prodigal musical partner and brother Noel. In a word, Different Gear isn’t bad.
But is it good? At times, yes, though grading on a curve helps. Different Gear is at its best when running lean, like on “Bring The Light,” which is powered by a relentlessly pounding barrelhouse piano and Gallagher’s brashly assertive vocals. Gallagher is in fine voice throughout Different Gear, affecting a disarming sweetness on the pretty (and all-too-brief) love song “For Anyone,” and pulling off a decent John Lennon impersonation on “The Roller,” which is only the album’s second most blatant Beatles homage. (The first is the boastful rocker “Beatles And Stones.”) At 13 songs, Different Gear starts to wear out its welcome about two-thirds in, once it settles into the muddled psychedelic bloat of tracks like “Wigwam” and “The Morning Son.” But by then, Liam has already made his point: Noel ain’t the only Gallagher that can competently lead a fookin’ lad-rock band, mate.