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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Black Star Dancing EP (Album Review)

Friday, 14 June 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Mitch Ikeda

As one of Britpop’s most garlanded grandees, Noel Gallagher’s mid career with the High Flying Birds has been one of workmanlike craft: the explosive obnoxiousness of Oasis replaced by tidy, unremarkable indie-pop. It sometimes feels like his albums are released to publicise his latest batch of entertaining interviews.

‘Black Star Dancing’, the first of three EPs planned this year, is a bit of a departure, combining three new tracks with two remixes. That said, the title track is some of his best post-Oasis work to date: somewhere on the David Bowie space-rock spectrum that it openly references, melded with the groove-led indie of ‘00s gone-but-not-forgottens the Bravery and the Music.

It’s beautifully arranged as tight, simple basslines dance amid layered vocals and elegant synth backing.

The video is also worth a watch; a retro journey to a 1970s social club with the gathered comic talents of Bobby Ball, Wee Jimmy Krankie and—godfather of flatulent pub racism—Bernard Manning all in attendance.

The second track is more traditional High Flying Birds fare. Rattling Rose amounts to a dwelling arrangement of vast textural breadth, with a stop-start groove that feels both hypnotic and intellectual.

In many ways, this may be a deliberate reassurance to fans of the band’s signature sound. Gallagher's oeuvre is more conservative than opposite number Damon Albarn’s, but that is not to diminish superb song-craft that really lifts once it gets going.

Elsewhere, we have the elegant sea shanty Sail On, which lands somewhere between the jangly majesty of the Stone Roses’ Waterfall and the soundtrack to a Santander banking advert. Sadly, this is a track we can put in the ‘tidy, unremarkable’ basket. Its decent—though off the shelf—chords are backed up by lyrics and melody that never really get off the runway.

Gallagher has always had this in him, and much of the brilliance of Oasis’s early work was in the band’s X factor: their capacity to make serviceable songwriting appear world-class. And, to be fair, Gallagher has admitted as much. Now let’s get stuck into one of those interviews...

Noel Gallagher Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri June 14 2019 - ISLE OF WIGHT Seaclose Park
Sun June 16 2019 - DUBLIN Malahide Castle
Sun June 30 2019 - EXETER Powderham Castle

Click here to compare & buy Noel Gallagher Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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