Sinking in the quicksand
Stranded on the wrong beach
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Come and rescue me
— (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Britpop legends Oasis finally disbanded in 2009 after years of sibling strife. Noel Gallagher declared he couldn’t spend another day in the life of younger brother Liam.
Liam and the other members of Oasis (except Noel obviously) formed Beady Eye. Their patchy Different Gear, Still Speeding album released earlier this year was relatively well-received but didn’t diverge much from the well worn Oasis lad rock template.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds then is Noel’s debut solo album and it’s – wow! – a radical departure for the ex-Oasis bandleader. Experimental madness runs riot as Noel decides to take a left-field detour in a new direction.
Not really. It’s actually more of the same old same old plodding rock ‘n’ stroll he’s been churning out since the mid-noughties. Liam Gallagher’s snarling in yer face presence is much missed. It would have at least enlivened the mid-paced proceedings.
Things begin promisingly. Everybody’s On The Run is the kind of soaring anthem that Oasis often excelled at. It’s a false dawn.
Second track Dream On is one of several plodders that go nowhere slowly. It’s mostly the drumbeat that grates. The same mid-tempo thud-thud (a technical term) accompanies far too many of the elder Gallagher’s compositions nowadays. The Death Of You And Me, Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks, (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach all feature the same insufferable – once noticed – middling beat.
(Ironically, original Oasis drummer Tony McCarroll was dismissed from the band in 1995 at Noel’s insistence for allegedly not being good enough.)
Elsewhere, AKA…What A Life! sees an indie dance element added courtesy of a Hammond Organ driven change up into a faster gear. The likes of hardy Britpop survivors The Charlatans have been doing this kind of thing much better for years though so it’s hardly revolutionary.
AKA…Broken Arrow momentarily breaks free of the shackles that bind so much of this album to shine brighter than its peers. Even if its lyrical motif about angels isn’t much cop.
To be fair, Noel’s lyrics have never been his greatest asset as a songwriter. This is the man who –- even at his (What’s The Story) Morning Glory-era peak –- penned clangers like ‘Slowly walking down the hall/Faster than a cannonball’ on Champagne Supernova. But you’d think that 16 years of experience in the interim would lead to better opening couplets than the cringe worthy ‘If I had a gun/I’d shoot a hole into the sun’ that ushers in lead US single If I Had A Gun. (Many Americans may also wonder why there’s any doubt about having a gun…).
And yet all is not lost. Noel has revealed a second solo album has already been recorded and will be released in 2012. It’s a “far out” collaboration with psychedelic rockers Amorphous Androgynous (aka The Future Sound Of London) allegedly featuring soul, funk and krautrock.
Hopefully, Noel has taken a cue from his fellow mod rocker and drinking buddy Paul Weller whose 2010 Wake Up The Nation album proved a bit of experimentation can definitely be a good thing.