Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – High Flying Birds

Reviewer: Brian Mc Caul
Two years have passed since one of Britain’s biggest rock band of the last 30 years imploded in a flurry of flying plums and guitars. Oasis meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but most will admit the quality of albums after those first 2 dipped dramatically. Almost all those classic songs and B-sides were written by guitarist Noel Gallagher before Oasis had a record deal. Songs about youth, good times and escape that connected to the masses through huge choruses, loud guitars and legendary gigs. Liam immediately went on to form Beady Eye with the other members of Oasis while Noel stayed out of the limelight, having nothing more to say on Oasis. This summer Noel announced details of 2 solo albums to be released under his new moniker, “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds”. In 2012 a ‘far out’ collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous will appear, but for now we have the debut album.

What Noel has delivered is 10 tracks of catchy, melodic pop rock. It’s not exactly a radical departure from Oasis. The noisy guitars are gone and Liam’s inimitable vocals too. But this is Noel’s most sing-along album since Morning Glory The addition of banjo, musical saw, female vocals and ‘wine glasses’ show signs of experimentation. Two tracks have actually been online in various formats for a few years. The wonderful “(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine”, with soaring strings, a gospel choir and a guitar solo all merging together. “Stop The Clocks” closes the album with delicate acoustic strumming, before twice breaking into guitars, feedback and noise. It works brilliantly.

The singles ‘The Death Of You And Me’ and ‘AKA…What A life’ have received mixed reactions. ‘The Death Of You And Me’ is uncomfortably similar to Oasis’ ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’, but when the brass section kicks in you have to smile. ‘AKA…What A life’ is the most adventurous song on the album, with a thumping house beat, keyboards, mellotron and bursts of guitar. Noel has released his first dance track and it works fantastically. While  ‘If I Had A Gun’ and ‘Everybody’s On The Run’ are beautiful tracks. They feature a full blown orchestra and choir and it appears Noel is no longer afraid to write loved up lyrics. The chorus line of “Excuse me if I spoke to soon, my eyes have always followed you around the room” is simple but affecting.

Everyone is aware of Noels ‘magpie’ gift for stealing melodies and ideas from past legendary bands and now it’s the turn of The Kinks. The jaunty ‘Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks’ and ‘Dream On’ bounce along aided by some lovely trumpet. This is a more polished gentle affair than Beady Eye’s debut, with much more melody. ‘The Chief’ rings in the second stage of his career with a great album. If he can bring some of the wit and cleverness he shows in his interviews to his classic song writing, there will be even better records to come. Currently outselling some X Factor robot 2-1, Noel has proven that music still needs him.

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