The Oasis split didn’t come so much as a shock as it did a disappointing inevitability.
It’s no secret that Noel Gallagher and Liam Gallagher would butt heads often when it came to writing songs or performing said songs so the news that Oasis’ long run would finally come to an end was something of a long time coming. Each brother spinned-off into their own bands, with Liam keeping the kids (Oasis bandmates Andy Bell, Gem Archer and Chris Sharrock) thereby forming Beady Eye while Noel secretly put together Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
To no-one’s surprise, of course, both bands sounded like Oasis.
The self-titled Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was the first album from Noel’s new band and the pressure was on to outdo Beady Eye’s album Different Gear, Still Speeding, released slightly before.
Let’s take a look/listen.
The last single to be released from the album, “Everybody’s On The Run” starts things off somewhat epically with an orchestral build-up and choirs. It’s an upbeat song with reliably solid vocals, a catchy melody and an equally catchy chorus. It is followed by another upbeat track, “Dream On”: an effective little tune with another genuinely nice melody. A more than worthy opening overall, I’d say.
“If I Had A Gun…” is an enjoyable love song with a softer first 30 seconds. It does kick things up a notch quickly, though, and soon delivers a memorable, worthy hook. “The Death Of You And Me” is next and it’s a breezy, contemplative song with a really good chorus. Its crescendoes drive us to some welcome trumpets-led jazzy solos which give the whole thing a cool, New Orleans-esque atmosphere.
The oddly titled “(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine” opens with a slow, chilled-out intro in danger of being too repetitive and a bit too whiny but, luckily, the chorus is somewhat more upbeat and the choirs are a nice touch. The song develops well and, after a short break, it ends on a high note. Not too bad. “AKA… What A Life!”, the album’s second single, is one of the catchier tracks on it. It’s simple yet effective and energetic all the way through. Plus, the lyric “I’m gonna take this tiger outside for a ride” is just awesome.
“Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks” somehow gives off a kind of Aimee Mann-esque vibe with its ongoing rhythm reminiscent of that “One” song she came up with a while back. Noel once again delivers a pretty melody and the track has a jazzy, old-fashioned feel at times making it a good B-side piece to single “The Death Of You And Me”. The following song, “AKA… Broken Arrow”, is a softer, sweeter track with one of the best, prettiest melodies on the album. One of Noel’s finest songs in a while.
“(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach” then leads us in with a bluesier beat and ultimately delivers a terrific chorus full of swagger. Some of the later Oasis albums could have used a couple of those, honestly. Finally, we have the atmospheric “Stop The Clocks” which, though it’s musically sound, sadly never really takes off. It’s quite probably the least memorable track of the bunch.
While initially, I did feel that Beady Eye’s debut blew Noel’s album out of the water, this one’s definitely grown on me. Listening back to it, it’s a well put together bunch of tracks and, although Gallagher doesn’t take too many wild chances here, he still drops in enough subtle fresh touches to make Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds feel new and relevant enough.
It’s a tie between the Gallagher brothers in this first round, I’d say, and the irony that, in order to get some decent Oasis albums, the band itself had to disappear is frankly bizarre but sort of sweet also.
That’s 4 Red Hot Chili Fellas out of 5 for the Birds.