Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds album review
Right then, we finally get to hear what the solo album from arguably the best songwriter of his generation sounds like, and the initial reaction is one of…… disappointment. Not because the album is particularly bad – you just get the feeling with this first effort from Noel’s ‘High Flying Birds’ outfit that it’s full of songs he has had hanging around for the last 10 years of Oasis. All those acoustic-y ballads that never made the cut have been cobbled together for his first solo album, which if you ask us, is a massive missed opportunity. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was the chance for ‘The Guv’nor’ to stake a claim for relevance once again, instead it’s full of songs that sound suspiciously like they were intended for Liam to sing. But again, we have to stress; it isn’t really a bad album.
‘Everybody’s On The Run’ gets it off to a solid start, all epic choirs and strings letting us know were in for a suitably monumental music-listening experience – and the usual Noel-isms of managing to say everything and nothing in his lyrics at the same time: “A broken heart is still beating / In and out of time / Hold your body next to mine / But you can’t stop the bleeding / Sing to yourself and hold on / ‘Cus everybody’s on the run…” We don’t know what he’s getting at, but you can’t deny it packs an emotional punch. This ability is exactly what makes Noel so exciting – but also what makes ….High Flying Birds so disappointing. There are too many songs that dither when they should be decisive and none of the heavy, rocking tunes you would expect from the man behind ‘Supersonic’ et al.
‘Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks’ is the worst offender – carried along on an uninspiring acoustic chord progression with the odd sax interruption. It doesn’t go anywhere remotely interesting and even tempts you to reach for the Beady Eye album for something a little less middle of the road!
The comparisons with little brother Liam’s first post-Oasis album are inevitable, but many will be surprised that Noel’s is not all that better than Beady Eye’s Different Gear, Still Speeding. It does have more magical moments than it, ‘AKA… Broken Arrow’ and ‘(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach’ in partuclar stick out as high-calibre songs that only Noel could write.
The inclusion of the legendary ‘lost’ Oasis song ‘Stop The Clocks’ perhaps sums the album up. It is a great song, but we all know it as an Oasis song – not a Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds song.
The expectations of this album were always going to be hard to meet, but Noel certainly hasn’t helped himself by sticking to his tried-and-tested Oasis formula. Perhaps he just felt he had to get these songs off his chest and now Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds can concentrate on something a bit more exciting and original. We live in hope!