Anyone going solo after being in one of the biggest British bands of the past two decades is undeniably going to have a hell of a lot of expectation resting on their shoulders. With his debut release, Noel Gallagher not only risked the reputation he built for himself during his Oasis days but also comparisons against Liam's counterpart venture, Beady Eye. Fortunately for both him and his fans, the self-titled 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' certainly proves his individual worth with ten stunning tracks.
The distinctive Mancunian twang remains on vocals but that is to be expected, though there's not an elongated 'shiiiiiine' to be heard (and that's a good thing). Everything else about this record demonstrates Noel taking a step away from the more laddish Oasis style and showing off a more mature sound. Everyone knows Noel was the predominant wordsmith behind Oasis songs so the fact the commanding and impassioned lyrics on this album are not to be balked at is unsurprising. Instrumentally the reliance on shuddering riffs and bounding drum beats are gone and now working alongside the softer guitar presence is a more orchestral sound. Pianos and trumpets are both exhibited, but the inclusion of violins in particular adds depth to the melodies and show us that Noel is not afraid to explore outside of his comfort zone; although early indications of this were displayed in Oasis singles such as 'Whatever'.
Opener 'Everybody's On The Run' features a dazzling string arrangement whilst 'The Death Of You And Me' possesses a more playful, jaunty countenance that provides a charming interlude to the more intense tracks that prelude it. Lead single 'AKA. What A Life' is one of the stand-out tracks on the record, with its driving drum beat and yearning vocals, though the other nine tracks accompanying it are certainly not lacking in comparison.
Many said that it was a sad day for music when Oasis split up but if anything it simply marked the end of a great era and potentially opened the door to another. '.High Flying Birds' is a developed and engaging album that showcases the talent of a brilliant musician who has finally been allowed to spread his wings. Excitingly, the best could yet be still to come.