Noel Gallagher soars with “High Flying Birds”

by Trenton Villanueva

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Courtesy of Sour Mash Records

 

 

Oasis, the greatest British band in the world between 1995 and 2005 according to The Guinness Book of World Records, broke up in 2009 after guitarist/songwriter Noel Gallagher walked out just minutes before an appearance at the Rock en Seine festival in France.

The band was known for their media antics and famous feud between Noel and his brother, singer Liam Gallagher, as well as hit songs like “Live Forever” and “Wonderwall.”

While Oasis’ breakup was a disappointment for fans around the world, it has cleared the stage for the biggest, bloodiest professional rivalry since the Bone Wars between dinosaur hunters Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles March. That’s right, its what the word’s been waiting for, Noel versus Liam.

Liam struck first with his new band Beady Eyes—comprised of all the non-songwriting, non-Noel Gallagher ex-members of Oasis—and their first album “Different Gear, Still Speeding” last February. Even through the album debuted number three on the UK charts, it felt rushed and uninspired, missing the songwriting talents of Noel Gallagher.

After months of waiting, Noel has finally released his first post-Oasis album, and it is well worth the wait.

“Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds” has everything that Liam’s Beady Eyes did not: good songs, quality, and most importantly, Noel Gallagher himself.

The songs on “High Flying Birds” are all simple, all upbeat, and all in 4/4 time. All of them are worth listening and that’s something you can’t say about to many albums these days.

Each of the singles, including “The Death of You and Me,” “AKA…What a Life!” and “If I Had a Gun…,” are all catchy head-boppers and very reminiscent of the “Don’t Believe the Truth” era Oasis. The song “Let the Lord Shine a Light On Me,” a b-side to “AKA…What a Life!”, is absolutely beautiful with female backing vocals and orchestration. And it’s not even on the album.

Beyond the songs Themistocles, the best aspect of “High Flying Birds” is Noel’s voice, which was often just the backing track to Liam’s more conventional Brit-Pop vocals for Oasis.

While there was always a few Oasis tracks or b-sides that featured Noel’s voice, like “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “The Masterplan,” and “The Importance of Being Idle,” having a full album of Noel singing is quite a treat. Plus Noel’s voice, which I always found to be more soulful and emotional than Liam’s, fits this album’s more mellow style.

Overall, “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds” lacks a bit of the bite of many of Oasis’ more rocking songs, at least until the second half of the last song “Stop the Clocks.” However, what the album lacks in pure rock and roll power, it more than makes up for with beautiful orchestral arrangements, quality songwriting.

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