Noel Gallagher Reviewed!

Read MOJO’s verdict on Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ new album, Council Skies

Noel Gallagher 2023

by Tom Doyle |
Posted on

Quitting the dancefloor, Noel turns in his best post-Oasis album.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds


Council Skies



FOR A GOOD while now, Noel Gallagher seems to have been keen to leave his acoustic guitar locked in its case. Arguably the highlight of his last album, 2017’s Who Built The Moon?, was strummy ballad Dead In The Water, recorded live in a Dublin radio studio and hidden away as a bonus track, like a slightly shameful secret, after his experiments with glammy stomp and trip-hop.

Gallagher’s subsequent three EPs released between 2019-20 seemed to reinforce the point that he was determined to push back against what he was best at. The disco rock moves of Black Star Dancing and This Is The Place were a bit like someone deciding to put on a Hawaiian shirt that didn’t really suit them. Advance warning that this iffy period might be over came last year with the release of the demos of two songs from Council Skies: the strident guitar pop of We’re Gonna Get There In The End and the almost Champagne Supernova-esque Trying To Find A World That’s Been And Gone.

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The lyric of the latter informs the overarching sentiments of Council Skies. In the year he turns 56, Gallagher is both acknowledging that many of the places of his past are either shuttered-up or demolished – notably, the album cover features a Moss Side roundabout that marks the place where Manchester City’s Maine Road ground once stood – while at the same time recalling his youthful early-’90s thrills of facing an unknown and possibly brilliant future.

Easy Now, with its balladeering verses bursting into singalong choruses, is stirring stuff, and highlights the inherent empathy contained within many of his best songs. A message for a troubled individual, or someone being left behind, its standout hook, “I’ll be there/I’ll wait for you, I swear” contains a power that will be manifestly multiplied by huge crowds singing it back at its writer.

Elsewhere, Gallagher further spotlights his newfound love for The Cure (that first surfaced with Who Built The Moon?’s It’s A Beautiful World) in the propulsive, A Forest-like Pretty Boy, which has already been remixed and rendered even more Cure-like by Robert Smith, who half-timed the tempo from Seventeen Seconds to Disintegration.

Along the way, there are stylistic diversions that are more subtle: the soul rhythm and gospel vocal support of I’m Not Giving Up Tonight; the Prince-like (specifically Raspberry Beret) shapes of Open The Door, See What You Find. Best of all is the lovely Dead To The World, with its jazzy chords and ’60s filmic strings (which even Liam, on Twitter, grudgingly acknowledged with the backhanded compliment, “How can such a mean spirited little man write such a beautiful song?”).

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All in all, then, Council Skies is very much a creative success. It’s the sound of Noel Gallagher pushing onwards, while once again playing to his strengths.

Council Skies is out 2 June via Sour Mash

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