Noel Gallagher, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
2011, Sour Mash
Life is full of surprises. A few of them are good; many are terrible. To paraphrase Radiohead, sometimes we want no surprises. Noel Gallagher’s first solo album unveils a distinct lack of shock -and thank God. For true Oasis fans, listening to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is like sitting in a favorite neighborhood bar, drinking a beer with a friend. No surprises: just the comfortable blend of rhythm guitar, familiar chord progressions, dead-simple melodies, derivative lyrics, and nods to the Beatles and the Kinks that people have come to expect (and mock). “The Death of You and Me” is an offshoot of 2005’s “The Importance of Being Idle,” while “AKA . . . Broken Arrow” stems right from 1995’s “Wonderwall.” Even the dark dance track “AKA . . . What a Life!” appears less than jarring when you remember Gallagher dabbled with the Chemical Brothers back in the day. But the Chief, as he’s called in certain circles, knows what he’s doing and he does it well. When you can write a song like “If I Had a Gun . . .”— obscenely basic but mysteriously moving — you shouldn’t toss out your template to make a reggae record. Some will wonder if Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds scores higher marks than Oasis. Not surprisingly, the answer is no. Who really thought it would? Just as Noel’s steady grip is missed on brother Liam’s Beady Eye album (Different Gear, Still Speeding), Liam’s unpredictable presence is missed here. As the British might say, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is as safe as houses. Others could dub it dad rock. The Gallagher brothers need each other to make great music, and I predict they’ll reunite in the future. In the meantime, Oasis nuts have Noel.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will be available at Omega Records at 318 E. Fifth St. in Dayton.