After the split of Oasis, Noel Gallagher went on to form his first solo project, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and the project released its self-titled debut in 2011. This record is the first time that Gallagher had taken on the role of frontman (his brother Liam had taken on this role in Oasis) and, perhaps unsurprisingly, he handles it very well. Musically, this record feels much more subdued than many records in the Oasis catalog; it feels noticeably less fueled by wild-eyed rock n’ roll rebellion and all of the usual trappings that go along with such bursts of pure, visceral energy.
The opening track on the record is “Everybody’s on the Run” and on this track, Gallagher and his High Flying Birds are, melodically, staying a similar course to the tried and true methods of Oasis. It must be addressed, however, that perhaps Gallagher has matured past being a young rock n’ roll punk obsessed with taking the adventurous ride with his band to the very top. Rest assured, he still possesses his usual sharpness and his infamous, what some would call, arrogance (Those who make this assessment, generally, aren’t too bright, no matter how true it might be.), and so all of the essential ingredients to what made him such a rock icon in the first place are certainly all intact here. Further on down the record is the track “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine”, in which, the listener is treated to absolutely blissful strings and subtle hints at a melodic passage that will be found later on down the record. The song in which this passage will be found is “Stop the Clocks”, which is definitely one of the top two or three songs on the record. Unfortunately, the second half of this record, up until this incredible track, tends to slip up a bit, especially after “AKA… What a Life!”. However, when this record is at its very best, it’s powerful stuff. As much as Noel Gallagher has professed his lack of interest in lyrics, his own on this record’s best moments are wonderful and have an innate ability to resonate on the deepest of levels.
An interesting thing to consider for why the second half of this record tends to slouch is whether or not this project’s infancy has anything to do with this hinderance. Is the unit not fully comfortable with itself? It certainly has nothing to do with Noel Gallagher’s ability to strike out on his own (Let’s be honest, he was always Oasis’ superior Gallagher.), because this record has moments where it really shines bright. One other thing that really drives this record is Gallagher’s innate coolness; his personality and charisma seem to flow as effortlessly as many of the lyrics and melodies do on this record’s best moments. As an overall record, it’s not quite as good as the best of Oasis’ catalog. On the flip side, though, it’s a bit unfair to compare the High Flying Birds to Oasis, because of the seemingly purposeful attempt at separating from Oasis that is heavily persistent in their overall sound. Though they have traces of Oasis, there is little argument that this is a blatant continuation of that band’s legacy.