It’s no question that Oasis’ split in 2009 was one of the most shocking and upsetting break-up’s in the history of music. The band was on tour when the ever destructive relationship between founding brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher reached boiling point; a night which began with an argument, and culminated in a smashed guitar and the disintegration of one of alternative rock’s greatest icons.
Oasis’ split saw Liam Gallagher, and Oasis’ other members form Beady Eye, whose debut, Different Gear, Still Speeding, was released in February 2011. It was now the turn of the group’s songwriter and lead guitarist, Noel Gallagher to strut his stuff as a solo artist, with an album which was arguably held in much more anticipation that that of Beady Eye’s.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was announced in July 2011 with leadoff single, The Death of You and Me, which received positive reviews. Since then tracks, Aka… What a Life! and If I Had a Gun… have been released as singles, and October the 17th marked the day when the entire album would be on sale, and everyone was waiting in sweaty anticipation.
Let’s just spoil the ending: it’s brilliant. In short, it’s an album smothered in Noel: superb song arrangements, great music (off more than unorthodox instruments), and great lyrics… everything you’d want in great songs.
High Flying Birds greets you with Everybody’s on the Run, a rather grand sounding track and it’s here that you immediately notice that the sound is quite different. It is not an ‘Oasis album’ in that it isn’t stadium rock; though it does contain Oasis elements, with perhaps a more ‘pop’ feel. Songs contain unusual-to-Oasis instruments such as the double bass, electric kettle, wine glasses, trumpets, and a musical saw. It even contains a hundred-piece choir and strings a few songs, including the aforementioned opening number.
Make no mistake, in spite of the odd instrument; this isn’t a far cry away from the Noel-sung songs on Oasis albums. I’m not going to say its 10 tracks of The Importance of Being Idle and Don’t Look Back in Anger, but it damn-near reaches that target with some tracks akin to Oasis’ best. We expected quality, and the father of Britpop certainly hasn’t let us down. Gallagher proves that flying high is better than a gear change; an essential listen.