Review: Noel Gallagher — 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds'
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
What do you say that hasn’t been said about Noel Gallagher -- or that he hasn’t already said himself?
He was the chief songwriter for Oasis and put British rock back on the map after The Beatles were done invading. High Flying Birds is far more mellow than anything you’ve heard, beginning to end, from Oasis. Is that because the hard-charging Liam isn’t howling out the lyrics, or is it that we’ve found a much more mellow Noel? Seems a bit of both.
The album starts off with the highly addictive “Everybody’s on the Run." Gallagher seems to have opened up the entire musical toolkit now that he doesn’t have to sort out parts for an entire band. Instead he opens with a string section that gives you a sense that something good is to come. Noel’s knack to write melodies that stick with you forever has been on display his entire career.
Noel breaks out the acoustic guitar for “If I had a Gun." He’s not afraid to let the melody carry the day. As with most of the album, you’ll find yourself singing along in no time. Initially written for Oasis and Liam, “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine” has a corny title but hooks you so hard. This is only one of two songs to feature a guitar solo -- and an interesting one that marches into strings that were certainly lifted from The Beatles' playbook.
It’s fun to listen to Noel try all sorts of new things. “AKA... What a life” has a sound that seems to fit more with a band like Kasabian who are known for techno/dance rock songs.
“The Death of You & Me” is the track I’ve had the most time to enjoy. It was the first song that gave me hope Gallagher’s solo effort would be great. Even after having heard the song a dozen times, it's still enjoyable. Its funky tempo takes the Gallagher method of building a melody from the verse and rockets into the chorus that grows and grows.
The first half of the album is really strong. Any of these tracks could certainly hold their own on any Oasis album. But there are a few let downs. “Stop The Clocks” has been one of those lost Oasis tracks that has long been ballyhooed and turned out to be anticlimactic.
“Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks” suffers as a decent song with a bad title. “AKA... Broken Arrow” suffers from being less memorable compared to the rest of the extremely strong tracks.
Noel goes with gusto on “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach.” This is as straight-ahead a beat as any he has written as a solo artist. This is the rare occasion where it seems it would have been better for Oasis. Liam might have made it better. If they ever get back together, Noel would do this song a service by handing it over to Liam.
Where Beady Eye is straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is more laidback and folksy. There are a handful of beautiful songs and a few that could have been left behind. All in all, it's half great and half good. If you are downloading, you absolutely can’t go wrong with the first five tracks. Then again, with time the rest of the album might still grow on you.
Five tracks that could fit on any Oasis album.
The Not-So ...
A few dudes could have been left behind.
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