After the shoe that had been threatening to drop for years finally hit the floor when Oasis split up in 2009, the Gallagher brothers’ artistic severance resounded within the minds of the band’s fans around the globe. Predictions about Noel and Liam’s separate musical futures ran rampant, and the natural solo-career assumptions were first validated by little brother Liam, who unleashed the debut album from his new band, Beady Eye, in February 2011. Nine months later, the first self-titled full-length release from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds has followed.
Rather than dwelling on the differences between the Gallaghers’ first post-Oasis outings, it’s probably more useful to focus first and foremost on the similarities. In short, it should probably shock few to discover that Beady Eye and Noel’s Birds have each unveiled a batch of tunes that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a latter-day Oasis album, at least with a few tweaks and twists here and there in the production department. Anyone who was expecting otherwise of Noel might have been at least partly influenced by news of his sophomore album, which was reported to be a psychedelically inclined collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous, but the fact that this debut hews closer to the Noel we know certainly shouldn’t be a disappointment — after all, did anyone complain when the initial solo efforts by the former members of Oasis’s biggest influence, the Beatles, retained a high degree of fab flavor?
In the broadest terms, it seems that Beady Eye sported a rockier feel overall than Noel and his fine feathered friends, further feeding into the notion that Liam brought the swagger to the band while Noel was the man with the melodic moves. Noel doesn’t lack for his rocking moments here — check, for instance, the frenzied guitar freakout that closes “Stop The Clocks” (coincidentally or not, a previously unreleased Oasis-era composition), or the strident stomp of “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach.” But it’s the Bacharach-loving side of Noel’s sensibilties that seems to get more of a workout here, via elegantly arcing melodies, graceful midtempo grooves, and the occasional artful touch of orchestration. Just to remind everyone of his mania for the moptop era, there are also the obligatory Beatles nods here and there, and the offhand Kinks-y touch, like the brass-band burst on “The Death of You and Me.” But none of the album’s cuts would have seemed anomalous in the context of a certain pioneerign Mancunian Britpop band, and if you’re the sort who’s likely to be let down by such a statement, you probably haven’t bothered reading this far anyhow.