Classic Rock Review

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (2011)

noel_gallagher_high_flying_birds_album_cover_location_beverly_hillsFrom whatculture.com

After the break-up of a great band, the subsequent solo releases need to balance everything that is needed for a great record: sounding fresh, different and inventive without alienating the fans that you left behind. An example of a solo that was not so successful was Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis band Beady Eye, which took all the worst parts of Oasis and made an album out of them.

Their first album ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ was incredibly dull, even disappointing the charts by only reaching number three in the charts. Over six months later and Liam Gallagher’s brother and Oasis band mate, Noel Gallagher is releasing his first album under the name ‘Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’

When ‘High Flying Birds’ first starts it sound not too dissimilar from Oasis songs such as ‘The Masterplan’ and ‘The Importance of Being Idle’. The ‘oh so familiar’ soft Manchurian voice from most of the better Oasis songs, the guitar solos, the Beatle’s influenced everything: Everything that made Oasis great in the first place.

Unlike Oasis, however choirs and string sections are everywhere in this album, hiding behind guitar solos or between verses. Noel recently spoke out about a love of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western themes and it is not difficult to see their influences on the record.

The best songs on ‘High Flying Birds’ include the single ‘The Death of You and Me’ with its catchy tune (I’m whistling as I’m writing this) and its brilliant horn section, which pleasantly surprises you every time you hear it. Another great song is the albums opener, ‘Everybody’s On the Run‘, which is soaked in choirs and strings. One of the album’s highlights has to be the albums closer: Stop the Clocks which goes into a choir soaked build up to an instrumental at the end, reminding me of Pulp’s Sunrise mixed with A Day in the Life.

However, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is far, far from perfect. Some of the songs are too big for his soft voice. I’ve always said that I preferred Noel’s voice but just sometimes it sounds like he could do with a more natural frontman to fill his void. Some of the songs also sound too Oasisey.

Despite the strings and choirs he still sounds very similar to the Oasis days. Most of the best tracks on the album have been heard before in some form anyway, from being played live to bootlegs from the Oasis days.

If anyone likes a Beatles comparison its Noel: If High Flying Birds is similar to any post-Beatles record, its Paul McCartney’s ‘Ram’. Filled to the brim with soft rock and radio friendly tunes but also remaining fresh and different, pleasing both the fans and the critics.

Compared to Oasis themselves, we often feel reminded of Oasis songs: the beginning of ‘If I Had a Gun’ sounds vaguely like Wonderwall, ‘The Death Of You and Me’ draws more than a few parallels to ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’ and Wonderwall again on ‘AKA Broken Arrow’.

While listening to ‘High Flying Birds’ I got a feeling I hadn’t felt for a long while on an Oasis record: This is really, really good. There is no doubt in my mind what Gallagher brother is better. Not that there ever was anyway: Looking back on Oasis’ discography you see that many of their best songs are sung by Noel himself. Maybe this is because he feels more natural singing songs written for himself rather than for his brother.

Overall I think ‘Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ is a solid album and has some great anthems on it, but it is possibly not enough of a departure from a familiar sound, especially for a songwriter as talented as Noel definitely is.

Noel Gallagher has a second album coming out early next year though, a collaboration with the experimental electronic outfit Amorphus Androgynous. Maybe this will be when we get to hear Noel get down to some serious business.

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March 30, 2013 - Posted by | Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds | ,

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