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Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher | High Flying Birds | Mercury Records

So. For those of you not aware of the backstory, we’ll make it brief so as to give this album the actual attention it deserves:

Brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher formed a band called Oasis in Manchester, UK in the ’90s. This Brit-rock powerhouse, known for their endlessly catchy hooks, melodic arrangements, and Liam’s distinctive vocals, became one of the UK’s tops of the pops, selling over 70 million albums.  But alas – in August 2009, the brothers decided that they just couldn’t get along any more. Brother Liam went on to form his own band, Beady Eye, and brother Noel started work on the solo album you’re reading about here.

Good?  Good.

All of that being said, it’s pretty evident that Noel’s songwriting gifts (he penned the majority of Oasis songs) were tantamount to the band’s success. And he brings those same talents to his own set, which presents itself as a blend of Oasis-reminiscent tracks (to be expected, ‘natch), ’60s-inflected melancholy rockers, one surprisingly danceable number, and a couple of towering Brit ballads.

In the Oasis-esque department, we find the likes of opener “Everybody’s on the Run,” which quickly brings to mind Oasis’ “D’You Know What I Mean?” with its epic choral background and… are those helicopters? “Dream On” blends a shuffle beat with some very Rubber Soul influenced lyrics, while current single “If I Had a Gun,” in spite of its title, is actually a rather devoted number to someone – “If I had a gun/ I’d shoot a hole into the sun/ and love would burn this city down for you.” Several of the other songs showcase this sort of dichotomy between the title or subject matter and the ambiance of the song itself. This occurs most notably on “The Death of You and Me,” with its bubbly pop sound, Mellotron organs, and graceful trumpets; but never mind the moniker, as the twist of the song is all about escaping those who would interfere with Mr. Gallagher and his girlfriend as they run away together.


Listen to an excerpt of Noel Gallagher's 'Everybody's on the Run'


“(I Wanna Live a Dream in My) Record Machine,” another track that recalls Gallagher’s Oasis roots, gives way to one of the more unusual songs on the set, “AKA… What a Life!” as a sort of dance beat experiment, which is  unexpected but somehow works, almost sounding like a remix of wherever the original song may have gone off to. “Soldier Boys…,” “AKA… Broken Arrow” and “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach” follow, and the album closes with the pretty Byrds guitars of “Don’t Stop the Clocks,” a track that was originally recorded for Oasis’ 2004 album, Don’t Believe the Truth, but that fits in nicely here.

While there’s a definite similarity between many of the songs, the interesting thing to note is that Gallagher doesn’t seem to be trying too hard, as one might expect from one brother in ‘competition’ with the other. His High Flying Birds tracks, instead, are approached from a more chilled-out point of view, relying simply on strong songwriting and Gallagher’s favorite Beatles influences to deliver a set that’s pretty much pure pop – and all the better for it. – Kristi Kates


To find out more about Noel Gallagher and his music, visit his official website.