Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Review

artist: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds date: 10/18/2011 category: compact discs
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Released: Oct 17, 2011
Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock, Britpop
Label: Sour Mash
Number Of Tracks: 10
Noel's first solo album effort is a good reminder that Noel was the prominent if not the sole creative force behind all of the greatest hits of Oasis. His solo album is a collection of solid tracks by a true songsmith.
 Sound: 7.7
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 8
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reviews (4) 18 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.7
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Featured review by: UG Team, on october 18, 2011
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: After joining with Liam to form Oasis in 1991 (at the time they weren't Oasis, they were known as "The Rain"), Noel took over sole songwriting responsibilities for the group. Oasis went on to create a revival in "Britpop" reminiscent of The Beatles British Invasion. They opened the way for many new up and coming bands creating a similar sound, branded as "Noelrock" by NME. A public feud with fellow Britpop band, Blur, as well as numerous controversies caused by Noel's outspoken and querulous nature did not slow down their success. Noel was labeled by many critics and reviewers during this period as the best songwriter of his generation.

Noel left Oasis in 2009 after an altercation before a concert in the backstage area, which was the last in a long series of altercations (many of them physical) with his brother Liam. Noel was rumored to have destroyed Liam's guitar and stormed out after an undisclosed argument. Later that same evening Noel posted on the Oasis website that he had left Oasis and could not work with Liam a single day longer. This came just a few months after rumors that Noel would be leaving to start a solo project were squashed by Oasis management in press conferences.

In July 2011, Noel held a press conference in London and announced his solo project "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds" and the upcoming release of their first studio album "High Flying Birds". The name of the album and band, "High Flying Birds", is based off of the song by the same name by Jefferson Airplane. On July 20th, the track "The Death Of You And Me" was confirmed as the lead single, which was soon followed by "If I Had A Gun" and "AKA... What A Life". On September 5th, Noel released "AKA... What A Life" on his official YouTube account.

"Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds" has 10 tracks and clocks in at less than 45 minutes. The songs really sound like the next Oasis album, with the exception of Noel's voice instead of his brother Liam. Each song is built around Noel's lyrics and songwriting with guitar and percussion, but with atmospheric peripheral instrumentation throughout including synthesizer, piano, tambourine, clapping and even brass instruments. The overall effect is a "wall of sound" type of production. You can hear Noel's fascination with The Beatles in this album, both in production and to a lesser extent in the actual songwriting and execution. // 7

Lyrics: You have to respect Noel as a songwriter, even if you don't especially appreciate the Britpop genre of music, or his very public personality and opinions. Noel began life in poverty, was a criminal at times, went on an international tour as a roadie with a small band and has had many hardships (many brought on himself) even since Oasis rose to fame, which supplies an endless well of inspiration to draw from when writing. Noel took advantage of this inspiration when he sat down to write the songs on this album.

Noel's vocals are very solid and melodic. Noel manages to provide exactly what each song needs vocally, with the exception of the song "AKA... What A Life", which I did not enjoy at all. The vocals are delivered with something in between a feeling of celebration and melancholy. Listening to this album, I can't help but compare Noel's vocals to Liam's and I'm left thinking that Noel's voice is much more expressive and has more character. This is solid songwriting and vocal work and I can't wait to hear Noel's upcoming collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous which Noel has described as sounding like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon". // 9

Overall Impression: In my humble opinion, this album is seriously hurt by over-production. Noel's songwriting doesn't have the space to shine in the too busy textures created by all the peripheral instrumentation and "wall of sound" type production. I think in a raw, more stripped down mix, the emotion of the songs the power of his lyrics and songwriting, would have shined in a way they don't quite manage on the album. If this were stripped down to Noel's voice, his guitar and some light percussion and let his music breathe a little bit it would be much more impactful. In its present state, I could see it being the soundtrack to a drive through the countryside in the spring very uplifting and nostalgic.

My favorite songs on the album are "Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks", "If I Had A Gun" and "The Death Of You And Me". The only song on the album I really didn't enjoy was "AKA... What A Life". I'm finding it hard sitting here to compare it to releases by Oasis. I have previously said that it sounds like the next Oasis album, but there really is a quality about it that is distinctly different, and I guess it is Noel's creativity isn't being tempered by his brother or Oasis management anymore. I think this is a good thing for the most part. Overall, this is a solid release from Noel Gallagher, post-Oasis. // 7

- Brandon East (c) 2011

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overall: 8.3
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Reviewed by: FN77, on october 18, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 8

Lyrics: 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. // 8

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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overall: 8
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Reviewed by: benthegrunge, on march 05, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds" is essentially the first solo outing of Britain's revered songwriter. It's unclear who the High Flying Birds are, aside from session musicians supporting Noel while touring the album, much in the way that McCartney formed Wings out of not wanting the stand alone, despite the compositions being very much his. 

The album's plush, clean production is established within the first 40 seconds via swirling strings and orchestration. The trademark ingredients of Noel's Oasis career all remain intact, with stomping rhythms meeting instant melodies and a preference for minor chords. "Dream On" and "The Death of You and Me" have a marching band, carnival vibe reminiscent of seminal Noel-sung Oasis single "The Importance of Being Idle," boasting trumpets, falsetto vocals and a skulking quality about the verses. Otherwise, we are treated to the more mature sound that Noel began on last album "Dig Out Your Soul," with the single "AKA… What a Life," as danceable as it is melancholic, described by Noel as sounding like a collaboration between him and The Chemical Brothers. The verse for "Stranded on the Wrong Beach" has a pumping rhythm and acid bass timbre that comes close to The Black Keys or Goldfrapp style. Noel has always been a magpie when it comes to lifting snippets from other songs and writing his own, and High Flying Birds often falls in line with his often-criticised tradition. I feel it a bit unfair that Noel has been singled out for scorn in this area, as the art of songwriting more or less relies on pinching hooks - there's only so many riffs and chord progressions to choose from, and we are all limited by this. Noel has never made it his prerogative to reinvent the wheel, and fans are thankfully greeted by this attitude yet again on the new record. // 8

Lyrics: The album has some top-drawer Noel lines and explores typical themes of mortality, existentialism and life. "If I Had a Gun" is intensely romantic: "my eyes have always followed you across the room," and also provokes imagination with the opening line "if I had a gun, I'd shoot a hole into the sun." I have always admired Noel for his ability to say complex things simply. "High Flying Birds" is perhaps not his best album lyrically for those who know his work well, as he falls back on a lot of his regular hang-ups, such as mentioning God, lemonade and "in and out." But the songs are carried by highly memorable, sing along melodies that provide any necessary compensation for lack of fresh direction. "Broken Arrow" particularly is a great example of Noel's ability to resonate with listeners by sounding plaintive and downtrodden. In this vein he is a better vocalist than brother Liam, as he might lack the sheer gravel in his throat that Liam has, but does have a decent range and a refreshingly human quality. In a musical landscape dominated by the nasal, americanised, Billie Joe Armstrong school of singing, Noel is the perfect study for more serious British singer-songwriters. // 8

Overall Impression: Noel said in a recent interview that this album is one of four he is proud of in his career, and is his favourite since "Definitely Maybe." This may be true for him, but "High Flying Birds" unsurprisingly shares the syndrome of mid-career Oasis in that it doesn't feature any career defining hits. It doesn't have the extreme shifts in dynamics that "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?" had, with no molten rockers and "Stop the Clocks" falling somewhat short of his older flag-waving ballads. The album is, however, a good collection of songs that really outlines "Noel-rock" and sees him growing old gracefully. I can see the album exporting well internationally as Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" did, and slotting prominently into the chill-out section of fan's CD racks. // 8

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