Noel Gallagher / Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

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Oasis always thrived on tension between the Brothers Gallagher -- not the interpersonal squabbles but their conflict between instinct and discipline. Liam personified the former while Noel flew the flag for the latter and their distinct, differing definitions of rock & roll continued to churn out exciting rock & roll until the end, when Liam’s cavalier attitude toward work proved the final straw for the elder Gallagher. Unsurprisingly, the first solo projects from the two reflected this dichotomy: Liam’s Beady Eye is all big-legged swagger; Noel’s High Flying Birds is tasteful, mannered craftsmanship. Noel often griped how Liam would prevent Oasis from doing anything unexpected, thereby raising expectations of left turns on High Flying Birds, but the little brass flourishes peppered throughout the record don’t stop the album from playing like a succession of variations on “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “The Importance of Being Idle.” Craftsman that he is, Gallagher does come up with several keepers -- the Oasis carryovers “Stop the Clocks” and “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine,” “If I Had a Gun...,” “Everybody’s on the Run” -- but his success ratio is no greater than it was on the last two Oasis albums, where his best tunes were buttressed by good ones from his brother and Andy Bell. Take the highlights from Beady Eye’s Different Gear, Still Speeding and add them to the highlights from High Flying Birds, and you’ll wind up with a balanced, better record than either individual LPs -- and in a direct competition the elder Gallagher comes up just a little short, as he’s missing anything resembling rock & roll, skimping on quick tempos and loud guitars.

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