Noel Gallagher's first solo album is inevitably going to be compared to that of his younger brother's, or his new band at least. The spectre of Oasis hangs high above both of these releases, as it always would after the disbandment of a group who have sold upwards of 70 million albums, but while Beady Eye sounds like Oasis missing one of its key components Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds is a fresh and compelling listen.
Liam Gallagher was clearly the mouthpiece of the Oasis, but Noel was its heartbeat. His first solo album has propelled him from the side of the stage to the front, a space which he fills admirably and with less gimmicked snarl and ill-tempered arrogance than Liam. The songs too, particularly 'The Death of You and Me', 'If I Had A Gun...' and album-opener 'Everybody's On The Run' are immaculately arranged and put together showing the craft that was obvious throughout much of Oasis' career. Noel Gallagher is one of the most talented songwriters of his generation, something that is evident on this record but distinctly lacking from the last couple of Oasis albums.
High Flying Birds is consistently good, an apt showcase for Gallagher's ability to write feel-good pop songs, with satisfying rhythms and hooky choruses - clearly the work of a seasoned entertainer. Gone is the youthful exuberance of songs Gallagher has previously penned ('Supersonic', 'Cigaretts & Alcohol') but that has been replaced with a measured smoothness, something that is one of the defining characteristics of the album.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds is better than any album Oasis released in the last ten years. You have to imagine if these songs would have been written had Oasis still been in existence and, if they had, would they have the same verve that they do here? It took a massive argument before an Oasis concert for the band to split for good. Liam seems content to keep the band going without Noel under a different name. Noel seems on the verge of a significant second phase of his career. It may have taken raised voices and smashed guitars to get to this point, but Noel Gallagher is on the cusp of something very interesting indeed.