Friday, 7 June 2019

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds



1. Riverman
2. In The Heat Of the Moment
3. The Girl With X-Ray Eyes
4. Lock All The Doors
5. The Dying Of The Light
6. The Right Stuff
7. While The Song Remains The Same
8. The Mexican
9. You Know We Can't Go Back
10. Ballad Of The Mighty I            

Whereas Liam Gallagher is very John Lennon-ish in places, his brother Noel is very influenced by Paul Weller and early seventies Traffic. Throw in a bit of Stone Roses as well. Both, of course, still cling on to that Beatles influence and both continue to sound like Oasis should have sounded had they continued.

This, Noel Gallagher’s second High Flying Birds album, from 2015,  is a good one. Kicking off with the inventive Riverman which is full of all sorts of sounds and musical ambiences, even some excellent saxophone at the end, which rarely, if ever, be found on an Oasis album, certainly not the early ones. In The Heat Of the Moment is one of those where, despite its bluesy rock influences, sounds a lot like Oasis in its refrain.  The production is a little “Oasis Wall Of Sound”-ish, but is better than previous productions. The different instruments are more defined and the bass properly clearer. The Girl With X-Ray Eyes has a brief Wonderwall-type intro, then, as often with the Gallagher brothers, some Ringo Starr drums kick in. Another one with one of those irresistible hooks. Gallagher (and his brother) both had a way of nailing a “gig singalong” chorus.

A lot of the tracks begins with tiny snippets of studio chatter or count-ins, giving it the impression of being almost ”live”, which is not a bad thing. Lock All The Doors is a spirited rocker, although its sound is somewhat muffled, compared to others on the album. It has a great punky guitar riff though. The Dying Of The Light has another of those Oasis acoustic intros and an affecting piano coda. Noel’s voice is not as clear or iconic as his brother’s unfortunately. You do find yourself wondering what Liam’s voice would do for these songs, unfortunately for Noel. That is a small point, really, his voice is perfectly acceptable on these songs. The Right Stuff has an acoustic intro too, then some weird keyboards, Eastern-style backing and a bassy intoxicating rhythm. Even some horns appear. It sounds really like some early seventies psychedelic stuff from someone like Traffic, or indeed something off Paul Weller’s excellent Saturn’s Pattern album from the same year. This is mysterious and enigmatic. One of the best, most inventive tracks on the album. It really gets into you. Great stuff.


While The Song Remains The Same is a solid, drum-driven track with a distanced, wistful vocal from Gallagher. It sounds like something else by someone but I can’t put my finger on what. Something from the nineties, and not Oasis. The backing certainly has airs of that used on Deacon Blue’s 1993 Whatever You Say, Say Nothing.

The Mexican is an urgent, seventies-style rocker with a cowbell drum rhythm, like something by ZZ Top, it is fun of “rock” guitar riffs too and some punchy horns. I love this actually. You Know We Can't Go Back almost goes all Rolling Stones in its intro. Briefly. It rocks, though, big time. Another of the album’s highlights.

Ballad Of The Mighty I is a pulsating, bassy closer with a captivating rhythm and, at times, some hippy, summer of love-style harmonious backing vocals. Almost Crosby, Stills and Nash! Who would have thought it. This is an impressive track all round, with considerable diversification from that Oasis-influenced sound. This has been an interesting album. Many say Liam’s As You Were has been the finest post-Oasis album, possibly correctly. This runs it close though.