Oasis’s split may have been the best thing that ever happened to Noel Gallagher. Ever since the beginning, Noel and Liam’s toxic relationship had made Oasis an entertaining band, but also an unstable one of inconsistent output. So though Oasis was a musical juggernaut when firing on all cylinders, it was apparent in more recent years that the band had run its course. Another thing’s for sure: neither brother needs money, girls or fame (or any more drugs and alcohol) at this point. With hype and expectations nowhere near that of an Oasis album, the motivation to show Liam up and finally some room to breathe musically, the setup was perfect for Noel to make a hell of a record.
And that he did. As Noel does so well, the music on Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (just a totally random name he thought sounded cool… classic Noel) comes off as passionate and inspired, yet effortless, and the record possesses the type of songs you feel like you’ve heard a million times upon first listen. What makes Noel Gallagher such a special musician is not that he’s especially talented or that he’s ever claimed to reinvent the wheel, but that he has a keen ear for a melody and unsurprisingly, hooks abound throughout this record.
Noel starts things off with, “Everybody’s On The Run,” a grandiose, string-laden piece that possesses a massive chorus. It’s a track that could have easily come off as forced, but Noel’s voice and emotion are so genuine sounding that you can’t help but buy into it. “Dream On” follows as a slice of pure pop, using Noel’s tried-and-true formula of toe-tapping, strum-laden verses and again a big, in your face chorus.
What follows is the record’s strongest stretch that starts off with “If I Had A Gun,” an acoustic-driven tune oozing with hooks and soaring vocals. Then we get “The Death of You and Me,” another pure-pop strummer in the vein of Oasis’s “The Importance of Being Idle” that successfully incorporates some horns into the mix and is without question the catchiest and most radio-friendly song on the record. Another single, “Aka…What a Life!” is about as driving as it gets on the record and is a good change of pace. A few fairly non-memorable tunes go by without issue, before the record closes strongly with the final recorded version of “Stop the Clocks,” an Oasis favorite that had been previously released.
Certainly the most notable difference between this record and Oasis’s sound is the absence of the guitar-driven rockers. This record has no “Supersonic” or “Morning Glory” and is less of a rock album than it is a carefully crafted pop album that puts guitars in the forefront of its compositions. For some listeners, that’ll undoubtedly be a turn off and a disappointment, but Noel could care less. To his credit, he has always been someone who couldn’t give a damn about outside opinions and has made the music he’s wanted to. In Oasis, that ability was compromised when tensions with Liam made it such that neither brother was operating at their full creative powers and the records suffered as a result. This record feels like a new beginning for Noel and though it shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as the first two Oasis records or The Masterplan, it is as good as anything they’ve put out since. Don’t sleep on Noel Gallagher; you can be sure that this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from him.
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