THE BAD REVIEW Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Sour Mash)
by Scott Creney
I’m tempted to say that criticizing Noel Gallagher’s new album is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I worry that he might be saving that cliché to use as a lyric on his next album. God knows that Noel’s never been a literary genius, but this feels like — to speak in his artistic vernacular — the scraping of the bottom of a barrel. Aesthetically speaking, Noel no longer has a pot to piss in, much less a window to throw it out of.
Still, I’ll be keeping this album around for its entertainment value. Though it may not be the kind of entertainment Mr. Gallagher was hoping to provide.
Top 10 Lines from NG’sHFB (Placed Here For Your Amusement):
1) The kids are tired/Drunk up all their lemonade/The bitch keeps bitching and all
2) Let me fly you to the moon/My eyes have always followed you around the room/Cause you’re the only God I’ll ever need
3) It’s a long journey baby/And where it’s gonna take me/Just depends on the weight of my load
4) Try to walk in my shoes/But they don’t belong to you
5) Help me define the light that’s shining on me/To get back what they’ve taken from me
6) You can’t give me a reason/I don’t need one to shine/You can’t give me the feelings/Cause they’re already mine
7) But if I’m already dead/How would I know?
8) Keep on chasing down that rainbow/You’ll never know what you might find
9) I can feel the storm clouds sucking up my soul
10) Fallen angel, the broken arrow/She comfort me and ease my troubled mind
Back in 1996, when Oasis were the biggest rock band on the planet, I remember thinking, “Say what you want to, that guy sure can write a great melody”. Four years later, he stopped writing great melodies. Which is too bad, because without the endless hooks, or the shitloads of energy, there’s not much to distract you from the true awfulness of the lyrics.
“I want a taste of the world/And you can’t make me spit it out” is the most homoerotic line he’s written since Definitely Maybe’s “How does it feel/When you’re inside me”. It’s from a song called — Oh God I’m not making this up — ‘(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine’. It’s nearly five minutes long.
I hate to keep harping on about the lyrics, because none of this would matter shit if the songs had any life in them. But they’re all just the same mid-tempo, relentless quarter-note beats, an incessant 1-2-3-4 pounding — no wait, pounding implies there’s energy here, a degree of ferocity, perhaps plodding is more accurate — attached to songs that seem to exist for no other reason than to provide 25,000 people something to sing in unison. At times, it sounds like something out of a Christian hymnal, the way the songs go up and down the musical scale at one-at-a-time intervals. It’s every bit as predictable, and loads less dangerous. At least the Bible has some cool, fucked-up stories (see early Pixies).
This album’s contemporaries are Coldplay and U2, except those bands, dull as they are, have had a far more interesting 10 years of music than Mr. Gallagher. He still remains one of the best interviews in the history of rock, as honest and funny as they come, but one has to wonder how honest he’d be if you asked him why he makes such tedious, uninspired music. Most likely he’d point to the next album, due out 2012, a collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous which, according to Gallagher, is “far out”. He says it’s got Krautrock influences, Soul, Funk, and so forth. Which is cool, because NG’sHFB has NONE of those influences. It’s as white and grooveless as records come. Again, you’d have an easier time dancing to Chris Martin. For a man from working-class Manchester, weaned on the Hacienda, this is unexcusably piss-poor. Outflanked by Coldplay? He should be fucking ashamed of himself.
In retrospect, I should have just written the 10 song-titles — they nearly tell the entire story.
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by Scott Creney
Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. If you want to continue this conversation, try @scottcreney on twitter or ask.fm/scottcreney.