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Monday, November 07, 2011
Time Reviews Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Album
The first solo album by Oasis' chief songwriter is the musical equivalent of stepping back into society after a very high-profile divorce.
Right before I popped Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds into my computer for a first listen, I thought, “It’s going to be hard for Noel to pull this off.” As one half of rock’s most contentious sibling rivalry, Noel Gallagher has indirectly weathered decades of criticism for his brother Liam’s drunken and borderline-abusive actions, for his own pretentious comments (he once called Jack White “Zorro on doughnuts”) and for Oasis’ inability to get its act together.
Oasis may have produced some hugely popular rock ‘n’ roll songs — next time you’re at a bar, play “Wonderwall” on the jukebox and count the number of people who sing along — but the band hasn’t really been relevant since the late 1990s. Instead, Liam and Noel spent much of the past decade releasing subpar albums and engaging in public squabbles. The Britpoppers officially broke up in 2009 and, in traditional Gallagher fashion, Liam then threatened to sue Noel for claiming that he missed a festival date because of a hangover (Liam says it was laryngitis). With High Flying Birds, Noel is doing the musical equivalent of stepping back into society after a very high-profile divorce.
He doesn’t really need Oasis, of course. In fact, you could argue that Noel was Oasis. The best of the band’s songs — “Champagne Supernova,” “Shakermaker,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” “D’You Know What I Mean?” — were almost all written by Noel, who was also the band’s lead guitarist and occasional singer (that’s him on “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” which, of course, he also wrote). Clearly he was the only Gallagher brother capable of producing an artful solo album.
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