Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Now we know that Liam Gallagher has never heard OK Computer, Beady Eye's musical conservatism is easier to understand. On the other hand, brother Noel appears to have wider tastes than his sometime Beatles obsessions would indicate, with all manner of psychedelia and folk artists peppering his 'best of' lists and DJ slots. With that in mind, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds can only come as a disappointment, telling us nothing about Gallagher as an artist that we didn't know from his years in Oasis.
It's hard not to feel that much of ... High Flying Birds is just a name away from the serious business of professional, Guy Chambers-style production line songwriting. For all the epic promise of the opening bars of 'Everbody's On The Run', once Noel comes into view and the melody takes hold, the overriding sense is Starsailor - a band no-one misses and no-one wants back. Pretty much everything else is just a retread of the material he would front with Oasis, like the mild glam stomp of '(Stranded on the) Wrong Beach' or the acoustic led strums of 'If I Had a Gun', a Rutles-lite version of 'Wonderwall'. Gallagher has every right to revisit some of his finest moments, but what they add to his repertoire is debatable.
That's not to say there are not newer tricks in the bag. The success of 'The Importance of Being Idle' means its chipper rhythms make not one, but two appearances: firstly on 'Dream On' (where "the bitch keeps bitching") and then on 'The Death of You and Me', a more explicit comment on his estrangement from Liam, where the "storm clouds are sucking up (his) soul." 'AKA ... What a Life' has an energy, a spark that's missing elsewhere, although it shares a driving piano undercurrent with Beady Eye's 'Bring The Light'; co-incidence perhaps, or maybe an insight into where the next Oasis album might have gone. It's still far and away the strongest track here, the effortless chorus and relentless rhythm offering a respite from the familiarity of the rest of the material.
The only thing intrinsically wrong with ... High Flying Birds is that it does nothing beyond suggest the next Oasis album would've been OK. Take the best of this and the best of Liam's effort and you would have a solid album sure to placate fans and critics alike. This gets the bogey of a solo album out the way, but most listeners will be looking for something more if the calls for the brothers to bury the hatchet are to be silenced in the longer term.