Noel’s solo flight takes wing
OUTSPOKEN British musician Noel Gallagher could have called his first solo album Life After Liam.
After 20 years together as one of the self- proclaimed ‘‘ greatest bands ever’’, Noel doesn’t need his brother to sing his songs any more.
It’s a subjective matter of taste, but I’d suggest Noel has always had a more palatable tone anyway. Maybe he never needed Liam’s nasal whine.
High Flying Birds is not exactly the stadium rock ’ n’ roll that Oasis fans are accustomed to.
However, it’s a top- quality set through and through, with rarely a flat moment.
The album opens with the grand Everybody’s On The Run, a song about a couple trying to escape a bad situation.
It’s a theme that pops up all over the record. And it’s easy to relate to as everyone is looking for something, which has always been the genius of his ‘‘ every man’’ songwriting style.
The cherries on this song’s cake are the huge choir and beautiful orchestra.
Never afraid of lifting ideas from classic bands of the past, he doesn’t bat an eyelid at kicking off swinging ballad The Death of You and Me with a Joe Cocker- esque: ‘‘ High time, summer in the city . . .’’
The song is ambitious and a little experimental for him with its horns, trumpet, trombone and saxophone. There are more lyrics about running away, escapism and hoping for something better.
Song six is the first real surprise, a stomping slice of rock inspired by youthful nights out in Manchester’s heady, late 1980s club scene.
The build- ups, filtered drums, melancholic chorus and insistent piano chords have got Noel written all over them but with touchstones that include acid house, Rhythm Is Rhythm and the Stone Roses.
AKA . . . What a Life is a song that would never have made the final cut on an Oasis album.
Taking a break from the heavier themes for a minute is Dream On, a fun rocker with pounding pianos and tidy guitar licks, big and fun.
As Oasis members, the Gallagher brothers courted conflict and the tension between them helped create some masterful music. The fear for High Flying Birds was that Noel couldn’t do it at that level without his bro to annoy him. Turns out that fear was unfounded, this album is a roaring success.
Not that there was ever much doubt, but at home in the UK the album hit the No. 1 spot on debut selling 120,000 copies, about 40 per cent more than the X Factor singer at No. 2.
It was also near double what Liam’s band Beady Eye managed earlier this year, not that the pair would be competitive.