Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds review
- Oct 10, 2011
So here it is the long-awaited return fire in the on-going war that is the Gallagher brothers. It is well documented that the Mancunian legends Oasis disbanded acrimoniously in 2009, days after a cancelled V Festival performance, following a series of rows between the pair which has since seen them create new musical outfits. Earlier this year, Team Liam, Beady Eye, struck first with their moderately well received debut album but now the attention turns to older brother Noel with new band, Noel Gallagher High Flying Birds' first album. So let’s see which brother will be the rock 'n' roll star and which will be crying their heart out in the battle of the side projects.
Prior to the release of the album, the signs have looked promising for Noel’s outfit with first single ‘The Death of You and Me’ and their latest effort the anthem-like ‘AKA…What a life’ sounding good. The latter has slowly but surely boiled beneath the surface over the last few weeks. When Noel softly screams out ‘it may be a dream but it tastes like poison’, possibly giving an insider view on life in Oasis towards the end, he reminds the world just how beautiful his vocals still are, reminiscent of how they once were on Oasis classics ‘Half The World Away’, ‘The Masterplan’, ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’ and 'Don’t Look Back In Anger' to name but a few. It’s a song which simply leaves you yearning for more from Noel and the boys, Jeremy Stacey, Lenny Castro and Mike Rowe.
The album, at times, feels very much of the moment having a slight sinister folky tone, no track more so than ‘Dream On’ which allows Noel to flex his whaling nasally vocals once more. The beat is constantly pushing the track forwards and it has a very intimate feel which Noel has consistently produced in acoustic sets over the years. This is a song which will be comfortably added to his extensive repertoire.
In tallying points between Team Noel and Team Liam, so far the advantage would have to go to the older brother’s high flying birds as Noel is evidently trying his best throughout this record to push forwards the current indie and folk movement rather than rehashing 1960s rock n roll, which is a huge criticism of Beady Eye’s work to date, as ok as it is. There’s nothing particularly new and fresh in Liam’s band whereas Noel continues to be at the forefront of creating modern music. Although Beady Eye’s recent rendition of ‘Blue Moon’, commissioned by Manchester City, was stunning, which would have proved a rather difficult pill to swallow for Noel, also a big fan of the football club.
‘Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ opener ‘Everybody’s on The Run’ is a defiant song of regret and despair with the determined resolution that you must pick yourself up and carry on following trauma. Later, the album moves to much cheerier tones, in sound at least, in ‘AKA…Broken Arrow’ which again echoes the sentiment that Noel and his band are defiant souls, rousing lyrics - "if I die in a dream please let me have a life" - almost suggesting post-Oasis Noel’s thrown away all the shackles which dragged him down during the band’s later years while now he is free to do what he wants.
Your allegiance to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds or Beady Eye will ultimately depend on your preferences on the brothers’ contribution to Oasis and whether you were a Noel or Liam person. But one thing is for certain on this record Noel is in fine form; his writing is both witty and poignant while his vocals have truly lasted the test of time, which unfortunately can’t be said for Liam’s these days. These two bands will, of course, never sell out arena tours like their grand predecessor, that honour has been left to the likes of Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys, but they both prove to be an enjoyable listen with Noel shading his younger boy.