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Album review: Noel Gallagher's 'Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds'

November 7, 2011 |  5:40 pm

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When Brit-pop super-group Oasis last toured, before the band’s acrimonious split in 2009, songwriter-guitarist Noel Gallagher mainly stuck to his customary stance behind younger brother and lead singer Liam.

Two years later, couched by cheeky diatribes in the media, Gallagher is front and center, both live and on his solo debut, “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.” Not as memorable as Oasis’ best anthems in the ’90s, or as nasally rock-ready as his brother's latest incarnation, Beady Eye, the album hovers within a melodic good-to-average middle ground.

If Liam hones the Stones, Noel reworks later-era Kinks, forgoing guitar theatrics for the inclusion of strings, horns and a chorus, sometimes to overwrought effect. His bright tenor, though, serves him well. Recorded in England and Los Angeles, the album encircles themes of love, melancholy and aging.

While many songs sound similar, with up-tempo beats and a carnival swagger, ascending ballads “If I Had a Gun” and “Stop the Clocks” are lyrically plush and show what Gallagher’s capable of. “If I had a gun I'd shoot a hole into the sun/ And love would burn this city down for you,” he sings behind an acoustic guitar, launching into the album’s catchiest chorus, blending in Beccy Byrne’s backing vocals.

It’s a start, but here’s to Gallagher’s next solo project, with electronic musicians Amorphous Androgynous, which should push more boundaries, and himself.

Noel Gallagher
“Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds”
(Sour Mash/Mercury Records)
Two and a half stars (Out of four) 

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— Solvej Schou

 

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