Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

3.5/5

2011

So here it is: Noel Gallagher’s first solo album. And it arrives with all the fanfare befitting Oasis’ long-standing songwriter, big, bombastic hooks and all. It’s the sort of self-styled epic that you’d expect from the man who penned some of the biggest anthems of the last 20 years, and it’s a world away from his brother Liam’s retro romp with Beady Eye. The odd thing is that, for a declaration of independence, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds plays it a lot safer than you’d think. Sure, it’s expected that Noel would write these larger-than-life tracks—it’s the only way he knows how to write a song. But other than the occasional horn section here and disco beat there, Birds doesn’t sound too far-removed from an Oasis album, especially Don’t Believe The Truth and Dig Out Your Soul, the final records where Gallagher began to tweak his tried-and-true formula. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily: all the songs here are thoroughly listenable and often display Gallagher’s formidable melodic gifts. The singles “If I Had A Gun…” and the brassy “The Death Of You And Me” would have been potential hits if it were the mid ’90s, while “Dream On” showcases Noel’s power to make even the lamest rock ‘n’ roll clichés come alive. The best parts of Birds, though, come when he takes a few risks. The propulsive “AKA…What A Life!” merges dance rhythms with an insistent piano riff, and though Gallagher has long touted “Stop The Clocks” as one of the best songs he’s penned, it nearly lives up to that hype, bringing a gorgeous, trippy close to the record. But despite how it succeeds in working within Noel’s formula, Birds stumbles for the same reason. It’s all a bit too expected, and though there is comfort in familiarity, the songs sometimes slip into middling territory. Noel’s vocals don’t help matters much: He always had the better range of the Gallagher brothers, but he lacks Liam’s personality, which makes it harder for him to carry the album on his own. Moreover, since he’s essentially written a series of gargantuan, lumbering anthems—the sort that take their time to reach their payoff—Birds doesn’t have the shots of vitality or energy that have been so important to Noel’s work in the past, leaving the record a bit too plodding and stolid at times. Yet Gallagher largely overcomes these flaws, delivering one solid, enveloping track after the next, even if many of them don’t reach the heights of his best work. Don’t expect to be blown away, but for any Oasis fans who want to see their favorite songwriter back in action, you could do much worse than listen to High Flying Birds.

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Posted on October 22, 2011, in Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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