Sound — 8
Noel Gallagher's eponymous debut solo album, "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds", hit shelves in the UK on October 17, and will make its way to the states on the 24th. Anyone familiar with big brother Gallagher's work should know what to expect with this album, and to Noel's credit, he more than delivers. After listening to this record, it should become abundantly clear if it isn't already exactly which Gallagher brother was responsible for the success of Oasis. Being the primary songwriter and guitarist for one of the biggest bands in the world makes it hard for his solo album not to sound similar to the famous Britpop act; however, "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds" will surprise many people with some of the diverse sounds not heard by his former band. The use of trumpets and saxophones, backing choirs, orchestral string arrangements, and even the up-tempo dance feel of "AKA... What A Life", gives Noel's Birds a fresh feel on familiar ground. Noel's debut solo album is a much more mature, and far less self-indulgent, Oasis record. If you are really yearning for a new Noel Gallagher sound, he is quickly backing up "High Flying Birds" with a second album featuring the electronic band Amorphous Androgynous, which is due out in 2012.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on "High Flying Birds" are true-blue Noel Gallagher songs. If you like the catchy rhythms and simple rhymes of Gallagher's' past library of tunes, then "High Flying Birds" will continue to delight. In quintessential Noel Gallagher fashion, you will likely be singing along with each song's chorus by the middle of your first listen. Songwriting is one aspect of Noel's work that is generally a given, but it's the sincerity to which he delivers his lines that gives it that extra kick-in-the-gut-feeling. His vocals have only seemed to improve over time, and it should leave you wondering why he hadn't been singing more Oasis songs through the years. If you thought "High Flying Birds" was going to be a tell-all-book of spiteful rants pointed at his younger sibling then you will be grossly disappointed. "Everybody's On The Run" may contain the only nod to his former lead-singer with the line, "you've been dipping and stealing, try to walk in my shoes, but they don't belong to you". However, the majority of the album covers specific themes of love, mortality, and the point of view journey of two characters. Noel said he wasn't even aware this was the direction the album was taking, as the only time he wrote down his lyrics was at the end of the recording process when the record label asked for the CD booklet.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, "High Flying Birds" is a great album with plenty of quality songs. There are only 10 tracks on the album, but I found none of them to be weak or easily passed over. If 10 aren't enough for you, check out Noel's B-sides to this record. The Amazon exclusive "Alone On A Rope" may actually be my favorite track of all his new songs. There is also, "Let The Lord Shine A Light On Me", "The Good Rebel", "I'd Pick You Every Time", and the bonus track "A Simple Game Of Genius", for those interested in finding more. As for this album, there is no questioning the greater depth and significance felt when the writer of the song is also the one who gets to sing it. After losing 160 lbs of excess tambourine playing baggage, it looks like Noel may have his voice back. Anyone who looks fondly on the glory days of Oasis should own this record immediately.