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Album Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Council Skies

2 min read
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds release new record Council Skies. Renowned For Sound's Ryan Bulbeck reviews....

At this point in his career, Noel Gallagher needs no introduction. The legendary songwriter and guitarist helped launch the biggest rock band of the 90s, Oasis, into the stratosphere, and since then he has been consistently churning out a multitude of great solo work, under the moniker of High Flying Birds. It’s been six years, however, since the divisive Who Built The Moon? album was released, and it appears that the time since has not been wasted.

I’m Not Giving Up Tonight is a paired back opener that provides am immediate contrast to his last full length release. Gentle drums and softly played acoustic build slowly, Noel’s voice taking centre stage. Gorgeous string arrangements pepper the track list, and the playing on this track, although understated, is striking. Mid-tempo, 60s-tinged Open The Door, See What You Find has more similarities to The Kinks than it does to Noel’s older music, but for some fans this will be a breath of fresh air. The closest the track list gets to the past is, ironically, Trying To Find A World That’s Been And Gone Pt.1, a beautiful ballad that eases its way into the first verse with acoustic guitar and dreamy soundscapes.

Singles Pretty Boy and Dead To The World follow this, the former being a unique addition to Noel’s discography. Its drum machine heartbeat and odd, hypnotic arrangement are a far cry from anything he’s done before. There She Blows! feels as though its ready to burst, but the false start leads to a slowly intensifying bluesy rock song. Love Is a Rich Man brings back the 60s flair, bouncing along with drums and brass before changing into a half-time chorus. Think Of A Number and We’re Gonna Get There In The End finish off the album on a rocking note, the latter being a revitalised demo Noel released at the end of 2020. The additional backing vocals, upbeat brass section, and tighter electric guitars being the track to life, and conclude the album on an upbeat and glorious high.

Council Skies, despite its monochrome appearance, has a lot of warmth and colour to it. Songs flow in interesting directions, propped up but often bright arrangements and great vocal performances. On the whole, Noel’s vague lyricism works perfectly, giving the ambient structures a level of ambiguity. Its taken quite a few years to get here, but its been worth the wait.