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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - This Is The Place (Album Review)

Thursday, 03 October 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Noel Gallagher’s penchant for a wig out is long-established. It’s been 23 years since he helped the Chemical Brothers to the outer reaches of ‘90s lad consciousness with Setting Sun, but of late he’s found other psychedelic avenues to wander along with a pair of EPs that have reshaped his solo sound.

The second, ‘This is the Place’, favours a trippy space a little closer to home than its space-rock predecessor ‘Black Star Dancing’. With a title that references Tony Walsh’s poem, synonymous with the aftermath of the terror attack at Manchester Arena in 2017, this is very much a collection that caters to the musical history of Gallagher’s hometown.

The title track is a looping, motorik head-nodder descended from important touchstones, including Creation transplants Primal Scream’s electro phase and the more esoteric of Ian Brown’s solo works. Gallagher really sounds enlivened by indulging in these old favourites. Confident, too. This doesn’t feel like a dalliance.

The menacing Evil Flower is another song that chews up and spits out the rote indie-rock shapes we have come to expect from Gallagher, and which his brother Liam is content to continue trading in, even if it does outstay its welcome.

Both tracks receive remixes—from Dense & Pika and the Reflex—that drive home their capacity for groove-based manipulation while flogging them to death a little.

The outlier is the EP’s second track, A Dream is All I Need to Get By. Slinky, disreputable and alluringly melodic, the track has a playful energy that suits the nominally workaday Gallagher very well. ‘This is the Place’ is not perfect—making an EP feel long-winded isn’t the best look—but it is an exciting turn from a songwriter whom many had consigned to live among past glories.

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