jason stives and brent johnson look at the first solo single from the former leader of Oasis …
From the mid-’90s to the late-’00s, Oasis were a shining beacon of greatness in Great Britain, heralded as part of one of the biggest movements in music since Beatlemania during the ’60s. They a heated competition in the press against their own Rolling Stones — Blur — leading to a chart war, and the gang from Manchester came out on top even after the hype died down. Over here, Oasis was the ONLY band from the Britpop movement to break mainstream radio and they maintained a respectable level of popularity here until the band’s dissolution in 2009. But now that Oasis has broken apart, the Gallagher brothers have to rebuild for both domestic and international audiences with their respected new projects, with Liam fronting Beady Eye and now older brother Noel releasing his first solo material under the moniker Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
The release of Noel’s first post-Oasis single, “The Death Of You And Me,” has received minor coverage stateside. However, in the U.K., the release of the songwriting Gallagher’s middle finger to his brother has been hotly anticipated and has already received much acclaim compared to that of the output of Beady Eye.
So how does Pop-Break feel about the debut single from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds? We asked our residential Oasis fans, Jason Stives and Brent Johnson, to give a listen to the track and detail their feelings. Is it a successful return for Gallagher after a two-year absence or a reminder that together is better than apart?
You are always going be on the short end of the stick when it comes to the offerings of the Gallagher brothers apart. In the same way I greeted Beady Eye’s debut Different Gear, Still Speeding with a sense of appreciation but unabashed with its intent to be the greatest around, I see “The Death Of You And Me” as trying to meet expectations but also its belief that it isn’t looking to pick a fight with the competition. Instead, it’s just good music, but it’s too early to call it great.
In a way, you would expect a lot from Noel Gallagher on his first solo outing for one reason: He IS the one who did write all of the band’s hits and undoubtedly some of the best music to come out in the past 20 years. So that being said, to hear a song reminiscent of a very good latter-day Oasis track, “The Importance Of Being Idle,” I’m not too sure where to lay claim on respect for originality.
In one instance, you do have something much more complex and less visceral than the tracks brother Liam has unleashed in the past year. It lacks the punch that Liam vocally procured and Noel wrote when he was a much angrier youth at odds with sibling rivalry. On the vocal end Liam’s voice is kind but not pleasing against the beauty of what he can write even if he did sing and write Oasis’ most important song, “Don’t Look Back In Anger.”
The song, regardless of its similarities to “Idle,” is gratifying in the sense of how Noel normally writes — tunes varying in tone but complete with a melancholic stance at life and any opposition. The strings are a bit of carnivale stretch but adds a kind of laissez faire mentality about the ruins of life and relationships. Is the title a smoke screen to the end of Oasis? Possibly, and it would make sense but it thankfully doesn’t punch that idea with its content.
Have I warmed up to the single heavily yet? No, because I have only listened to it twice, once for the reveal and the other for the review. Regardless, there is some great potential from this Flying Birds project, although the proposed experimental album to follow could be viewed as a pretentious walk on creativity, but it wouldn’t be a Gallagher related project if it wasn’t.
Oasis was great for a lot of reasons. The unbridled attitude. The unabashed Britishness. The cocksure vocals of Liam Gallagher. But first and foremost, Oasis was great because of Noel Gallagher’s songs. Yes, the chords were simple and the lyrics were obscure. But those songs stomped and soared with electricity. Like The Who in the ’60s, The Jam in the ’70s and The Smiths in the ’80s, Oasis were a wonderful singles band — and Noel is the one who birthed those tunes.
That’s why he has an edge on Beady Eye, Liam’s post-Oasis band. Songs always trump attitude.
‘The Death Of You And Me’ isn’t as anthemic as Noel’s Oasis output. But it’s still well-crafted, with its Kinksy chord progression and lovely falsetto vocals. Noel is like the Dave Grohl of Britain. Neither stray too much from their formula, but despite the repetition, they’re never boring or wornout. Chalk that up to strong songwriting.
I don’t expect ‘Death’ to become a classic, but that’s okay. It’s just nice to have another Noel Gallagher song in the world.