“Let battle commence,” the assembled journalists in London were told. So went the first meaningful sentence uttered in public by Noel Gallagher since his 2008-2009 tour diary abruptly ended with the announcement of his departure from one of Britain’s biggest and most influential bands.
The official website which had previously been hosting a light-hearted look at life on the road was now instead telling a horror story to millions of fans, and as they digested the news, Noel Gallagher retreated into the shadows.
The ‘battle’ is one Noel knows all too well and one which, two years and one new child on, he will no doubt be asked to fight once again over the coming months; for everyone ready to declare the man the greatest songwriter of his generation, they’ll be another immediately picking apart every chord progression to discover which particular mine this new stone has been dug from. In actuality, when he did re-emerge, the aforementioned press conference remained a low key affair, but it would take a brave man to bet that state of affairs continuing. Whatever happens, the reaction since has proved the world is still listening, and still ready to pass judgement.
Despite the long wait, ’The Death Of You and Me’, the first single taken from forthcoming debut solo album ’Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’, gives the impression Noel Gallagher has barely been away at all. Like a not too distant cousin of 2005’s ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’, the spectre of Ray Davies looms large from the outset, building from a similar, retro acoustic opening to an understated, high-note chorus which, almost un-noticed, begins to entrench itself in the mind after a couple of repeated listens.
The lyrics also tred on ‘…Idle’s toes at times (‘Isn’t it a pity that the sunshine is followed by the thunder’) and weave between a group hug and a more personal standpoint. As he tends to do, amidst the talk of souls and sunshine, Noel does pluck out the occasional line of inspiration from the air, a case in point here being a particularly topical ‘I’m watching the TV/Or is it watching me?’
It’s not all familiar however, thanks to one of Noel Gallagher’s more modern favourites, The Coral, also playing their part, as the playful introduction of brass calls to mind the Liverpool band’s ‘Magic and Medicine’ period, especially the wonderful album track ‘Eskimo Lament’. The out-of-character use of brass adds further hints, along with previous reports of strings, choirs, and a ‘dance’ track, that a solitary role behind the desk with Dave Sardy, a man who can probably now be described as a ‘long-term producer’, has given Noel both the desire and freedom to finally pick up and throw that kitchen sink at his work which he has threatened to, but never delivered, in recent years.
Given the weight of history which lies on their wings, Noel Gallagher’s birds will have to work hard to fly high. This first single doesn’t represent a strenuous effort to do just that, but instead offers an assuring air of confidence that they at least believe they will be soaring above the trees before too long.
Check out the brand new video for ‘The Death Of You and Me’ over on our Videos section.