Highlights: Dream On, The Death Of You And Me, AKA… Broken Arrow
At some point, and it seems like it happened a while ago, Noel Gallagher became the whipping boy of British rock music. Certainly this LP will get lots of bad press from American and, naturally, UK media (oh but it’s not Definitely Maybe, man, we’ve had it before – but better), and I admit it’s extremely tempting to be sarcastic and even derisive when writing a Gallagher review (especially if you consider the fact that “The Death Of You And Me” sounds so much like “The Importance Of Being Idle”), but let’s be honest: praising Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory and slamming Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is just far-fetched.
Basically, Noel has written more or less the same batch of songs for every album of his – granted, there were (often) different tunes and (occasionally) different arrangements, but overall the diminishing returns trajectory has always been very relative. Funnily enough, NME earnestly stated in their surprisingly positive review that some of these songs sound very much like Oasis. Huh? The whole thing sounds like Oasis – every chord progression, every vocal intonation, every guitar solo and every hook. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. For instance, the soaring and empty “Stop The Clocks” (an Oasis leftover) is expendable, as is “Record Machine” and a few others, but the majority of the album is addictive, well-written and almost numbingly catchy (“Dream On” (aka “The Importance Of Being Idle pt.3”) and the acoustic guitar-based “Broken Arrow” are particularly unforgettable). Nothing to discuss arrangement-, instrumentation- or production-wise (just what you’d expect), but a few gloriously overblown guitar solos are there.
The verdict: Beady Eye win it in terms of energy and overall excitement, but Noel still has more edge as a songwriter than Liam and Co could ever hope to be. There are some obvious clunkers here, but the bulk of this record is good, driving, in-your-face, Oasis-worthy material. It should be mentioned, though, that the album would have definitely benefited were it a collection of ten new songs – rather than an obvious ‘fuck you’ note to Liam.
(The rating should be 6, but I’ve already given it to Beady Eye, so…)