When Oasis ceased to be in a flurry fists and smashed guitars on August 28, 2009, what could have feasibly happened next?
Liam Gallagher could have decided to stop making music to concentrate on his clothing brand, Pretty Green; Gem Archer could have ventured into production while also being the ever-faithful sideman to Noel; Andy Bell could have gotten Ride back together to mark the 20th anniversary of Nowhere and a pie of the lucrative band reunion pie; and Noel could have finally made that long pondered-over solo album.
Instead, here we are 18 months later. We still haven’t heard a peep of new music from Noel, while the rest of the band have stuck together and decided to ditch the Oasis name and songs and have re-emerged as Beady Eye.
Different Gear, Still Speeding is a surprising album, It’s surprising that it’s not the unmitigated disaster some had thought it would be.
One thing you notice pretty early on is Liam’s voice. The quality of it has been a contentious point for many Oasis fans in the last decade but here it sounds as powerful and robust as it ever has. Indeed, if you listen to any of the recent live radio sessions, you’ll see that this wasn’t just studio trickery at play.
There are plenty of great moments. The opening track Four Letter Word is as great an album opener as any by Oasis. It’s a ferocious rocker akin to some of Archer’s previous work with Heavy Stereo. Millionaire is a taut little early rock ‘n’ roll-inspired number. For Anyone is a sweet piece of pastoral psychedelia that wouldn’t be out of place on an album by The Coral.
At 13 tracks, it does seem to lag at times (if anything was to go, it should have been the slightly laughable Beales And Stones) but the real pay-off is the end. Wigwam, The Beat Goes On and The Morning Son are the three longest tracks on the album; they’re also the most inspired. They’re hazy and dream-like. Liam’s voice sounds, dare one say it, sweet.
Of course another 200 words could be spent pulling every song apart and mentioning what or whom it sounds like. Some of the influences and references are obvious and some are a little more obscure. But there’s no fun in chin stroking. What’s fun is turning this up and shaking the invisible tambourine.
Against all odds, Little Brother and co. have managed to step out of The Chief’s shadows into their own light.
We now turn to Mr N. Gallagher for his response…
– Michael Hartt