The former Oasis man returns with a stunning new album that finds him in surprisingly euphoric form. Consider us impressed
The third album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds sees the legendary musician collaborate with super producer/composer David Arnold. Over the course of two years spent between Belfast and London the pair, along with countless musical guests, have constructed an album that might just be the best thing Noel has released for two decades.
Written in the studio, rather than alone at home, it’s interesting to see how this altered approach has affected his sound. That question is soon answered with opener Fort Knox and a soulful groove that’s far more danceable than it is man-swayable. The occasional dalliance with The Chemical Brothers aside, it’s a euphoric feeling not associated with his work, yet it’s a thread that continues with the stomping Holy Mountain, the riotous gospel of Keep On Reaching and the beat-heavy She Taught Me How To Fly.
There are familiar steps too. The title track has some of the Britpop bombast of Be Here Now-era Oasis and Black And White Sunshine is pretty standard-fair. But, rather than detract from the record, they only enhance its more experimental edges, contrasting nicely with surprising moments such as the French-spoken middle eight of It’s A Beautiful World.
The other notable factor is Gallagher’s robust and accomplished vocals; his finest ever. Whether through natural maturity or stemming from the confidence that comes from constructing such a strong collection of songs, there’s a surprising new depth to his voice – best displayed on the Americana-inflected If Love Is The Law. By pushing himself creatively, Noel has produced a feel-good album that will have you dancing the night away and forgetting your troubles. It’s the last thing we’d expect from him, but exactly what we needed. Welcome back!
Verdict: An old dog with plenty of new tricks