Sunday, November 27, 2011

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

With his solo release Noel Gallagher has brought back to light all of those age old Oasis arguments. There's a basic timeline of how most Oasis superfan's attitude toward Liam vs. Noel goes... At first it is all about Liam. His voice, his look, his style, his swagger. Then you realize the songs that are the grandest, most bombastic and most memorable are Noel's songs, either the ones he sings or the ones that are the most autobiographical. After discovering the b-sides from the first 2-3 records cements it, Noel is now your favorite. But then, after seeing them live, you remember how much of a presence Liam really is, and how the live Oasis experience is always focused on Liam. No matter how little he moved or talked, Noel's witty quips are no contest. So in the end you try to reconcile everything, and settle on the fact that it takes them both to create the magic.

So now, with Beady Eye's debut and Noel's first solo effort, the knee-jerk judgement is easy: Noel wins. Beady Eye's flimsy lyrics and post-modern pastiche melodies are paint by numbers, while NGHFB is pretty much a modern classic. I won't say it's perfect, ("Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks" and "Stop the Clocks" are definitely filler that should have been scrapped), but song for song there is no contest. NGHFB has much of the best of the last few Oasis records: the "Mucky Fingers" 12-bar blues of "The Death of You and Me," the soaring "Let There be Love" moments in "Dream On" and "Record Machine," and a couple of unexpected rockers including "Stranded On the Wrong Beach" and "AKA...What a Life." Even more unexpected is the fact that for the first time in his career, I can actually say that his lyrics finally caught up to the standard that his melodies have always reached. This debut is at times smart, romantic and utterly compelling in ways Noel's work has never been before.

But now, even while the glow of this record still shines, I am still 100% sure I still prefer Oasis. Not the last few records, but the platonic ideal that is Oasis. Noel's best songs, Liam's best vocals and the brick wall of sound that the best rock band of the last 20 years years produced. But I can wait. Enjoy the freedom, boys, and come back when you're ready.

If I Had A Gun... by noelgallagher

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