High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher

There is one inarguable truth about Noel Gallagher’s debut solo album ‘High Flying Birds.’ It has arrived with a serious point to prove. He is an artist with a luminary career spanning two decades. Much of his work like ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Stop crying Your Heart Out’ have earned him a seminal place in British pop culture, but this piece of work is very new and very different. For an artist of his stature it is a personal statement which makes his place in the pantheon of pop vulnerable. It is a vocal announcement from a musician who is normally unafraid of speaking his mind. He has a reputation for making the kind of statements which are often reacted to with shock and abhorrence by the media and the general public alike. So standing alone by a record leaves him nowhere to hide if the reaction is not favourable.

A Grower

It is just a well then as piece of work that the album is a solid creation. Sure it is not mind blowing, but it is a cleverly crafted piece of work which blends together different elements from the vast tapestry of successful music he has made in the twenty years prior to its creation. For Gallagher and Oasis fans it is a reassuring piece of work that as an artist he has not departed wildly from the chord structures etched into the soul of his music. There is also something fresh about much of the work. Gallagher will doubtless have invested much thought into the structure of the album. It certainly bears the hallmark of the expressive control which he has always endeavored to assert over anything which sports the Gallagher name.


The anthemic opening track, ‘Everybody’s on the Run,’ is an instant victory. Backed with a 100 piece Abbey road choir this marvellously simple composition would be a befitting end to any major tour date. As the first official song of a solo career it makes an unequivocal statement; this record means business. And the business is going to get into your head and stay there.

The second ‘Dream On’ Noel described a throwaway track. This is a statement that belies the perfectionist at work. If this is the stuff he is discarding then we are in for some decades more of quality. As a lead from the intro this is another song which seeps under your skin. It is lightweight but catchy and infectious and dangerously close to the brilliance of ‘She’s Electric’.

Drawing out the Big Guns

The album then takes a serious step up and the artistic big guns come out with tracks three and four; ‘If I Had a Gun…,' and, ‘The Death of You and Me.’ The levity of the opening gives way to the kind of record which is the signature of Gallagher’s much patented style. This work is complex, thoughtful, and intriguing. Tracks which are many layered and withstand the rewind button until the paint has worn off, and the spring has lost its snap. The work here is illustrative of someone who understands every nook and cranny of the studio and is able to exploit it to devastating effect.

Then just when you thought that it was going to be bit too serious he brings us back to the beginning with another massive anthem, ‘(I Want to Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine,’ which takes the pressure off and gets you on your feet again. The thought and structure of an album like this is a craft in itself. And if timing is everything the arrival of the title track is the epitome of holding something back until the perfect moment. For any lesser artist this would be track one. An interesting dance diversion that proves the old dog can muster a mesmerizing new trick. For any artist starting out this would open the album and disguise any of the insecurities that lay behind. Despite his musical stature Gallagher is not short of insecurities. Yet to find this gem hidden it in the depths of the record shows that none of the old confidence in his own genius has evaporated.

Slight Let Down

The contemplative, Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks, is the first disappointment on the record and you feel that this may have had the right to have been an EP. It is at the point when we are lead on to the songs which hearken back to the Oasis days; ‘Broken Arrow’ and ‘The Wrong Beach’ that the record loses some of its shine. These tracks are more the sort of ‘throwaway’ songs that you feel Gallagher could churn out standing on his head.

The record finishes as it began. With a big song, ‘Stop the Clocks.’ This is perhaps a statement every 44 year old is entitled to shout out. Certainly Gallagher is, and with this announcement let’s hope time doesn’t stand still before his next visit to the studio.

Overall grade: A

Naomi Robbins is a freelance writer with over five year's experience. Her work has offered her a huge variety of opportunities from the chance to write promotional leaflets for a company selling
 chaise sectional sofas to more exotic opportunities to travel around the world writing about her experiences.

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