Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

By Will De Nardo

Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds’ first solo outing hit record stores and download sites all over the world today.
It’s taken two years, as Gallagher told fans after the ominous split of Oasis, he would be prioritising family time over song writing, at least for a while.
In the mean time disciples of the brothers Gallagher had to make do with Liam’s not quite brilliant, but pleasantly surprising debut: Different Gear Still Speeding, which was announced before the proverbial corpse of Oasis had even begun to cool.
Despite its generally poor commercial appraisal, little bro did prove that him and the other Oasis boys would not be left floundering without the wisdom and guidance of their ‘leader’.
But despite all this, it has been the release of Noel Gallagher’s solo album that fans or in-fact anyone, who recognises and respects the talent and genius of the man who masterminded the biggest band of the last generation and changed music forever, have so eagerly anticipated.
Noel did recently admit he felt constrained by other band members to be archetypically Oasis when penning songs for the band, meaning a change in musical direction would not be an option. So surely his first solo album presented the perfect opportunity to bask in pastures new.
So did Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds step up to the plate? Was it everything fans imagined from brain behind Oasis? And did he grasp this opportunity break away from his portfolio of classic rock tunes? Well yes and no…..
Noel’s efforts to ‘try something new’ are apparent but by no sizable manner. Opener ‘Everybody’s On The Run’ is elegantly accompanied by an eerie chorus of choir voices and an orchestral ensemble, that leaves an almost trance invoking ringing in your ears.
First thoughts are that this is a little taste of the kind of epic, mesmerising sound that will the grace the album from start to finish, however this is not quite the case.
The next few songs revert back to the more predictable, yet admirable stylings that put Mr Gallagher up there with the greats. ‘Dream On’ will certainly be a crowd mover, sounding like a more aggressive version ‘Flashbax’ in places.
 ‘If I Had a Gun’, is another ambiguous love song, a delicate acoustic number that climaxes with electric guitars at chorus in true NG fashion.
Perhaps the biggest and most successful attempt at pushing the boundaries though comes in the form of the albums second single ‘AKA What a Life’, a dance-rock number. This is completely new territory for Gallagher and is executed superbly.

Described by Noel as: ‘a Celebration of life, eternally chasing the sunset’, this is probably the most contemporary of all his brainchildren and reminds us again how he is capable of keeping things fresh and exciting. If only there were more on the album that reflected this,(here’s hoping though that this is just a little taster of what to expect from his collaboration with dance act Amorphous Androgynous, set for release next year.) 

High Flying Birds also provides a stage to for NG to showcase his eagerly anticipated album closer ‘Stop the Clocks’ which for ten years has been provoking fan and media speculation.

Originally intended for Oasis’ sixth album: ‘Don’t Believe the Truth’, the track which then leaked in 2008 has previously been compared, by Gallagher as similar to ‘the Masterplan’. 

The hype though may be this track’s downfall, despite the beautifully bizzare lyrical content and airy composure.
The track is certainly a triumph for Gallagher, but has been overshadowed by the fact most Oasis fans heard a not so different version three years ago.
Overall this is a standout effort from the ex-Oasis mastermind, the content reflects everything that made Noel an expert composer and genius lyricist. If this were an Oasis album surely the headlines would read something like ‘Oasis are back on form’.
The disappointing thing though is that this is not an Oasis album and does not give us enough that screams the beginning of something new.
For some reason Noel appears cautious in his exploration of these unfamiliar realms, when really he should be embracing them in a more convincing manner, as I’m sure any fan will agree he is aptly capable of doing.
With a dance-rock album set for release next year, this may well be the (very) early stages in the next era of Noel Gallagher, watch this space.

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