Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (2011)
I admit, I was bit skeptical about this record. Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis effort with Beady Eye failed to impress me and came across as a less interesting version of Oasis. “If I Had a Gun”, the lead US single from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds gave me a similar feeling upon first listen.
But then I previewed the full record, and I must say: Noel’s first solo outing after the demise of Oasis is in fact simply fantastic.
High Flying Birds offers some classic songwriting; minor, major, shuffling beats, muted horns… and to be perfectly honest, Noel’s voice has never sounded better. As a long time Oasis fan this record made me smile, and on my second listen through there aren’t any skip-worthy tracks here.
The melodies catch, the beats are appropriate, and the soundscape is layered and lush. The opening track “Everybody’s On the Run” sets this record up well to let you know what’s to come. Surprisingly, nothing here sounds rushed-and-released.
“AKA… What a Life” is a groovy, driving track that caught my ear with some guitar work in the bridge that is very atypical for Noel’s style, and had my head bobbing non stop. “If I had a Gun” builds upon some familiar chords that may remind you of the Oasis classic “Wonderwall” (which isn’t a bad thing at all). “Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks” is about as catchy as any Beatles tune, and “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach” has some dirty shuffling attitude.
Bottom line: Oasis fans just might find Noel Gallagher’s latest record to be even more solid than most of his previous band’s offerings. At the very least, they will be quite pleased. This album won’t knock you on your ass, but that’s not something that Oasis was ever known for, either. It’s simply great songwriting from front to back.
If the Gallagher boys are now fighting the war of the solo careers, I have to say that Noel is currently winning.
Clay Lancaster (www.claylancaster.com)