Noel Gallagher flies high with greatest hits, while Biig Piig makes her mark

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Back The Way We Came: Volume 1 (2011 – 2021)

Noel Gallagher recently stated that nobody truly valued Oasis until they had broken up. Could it be Gallagher’s “solo” career in the cockpit of his High Flying Birds project is similarly under-appreciated? This “best of”, featuring two new tracks and material from three studio albums and several EPs, pleads a powerful case.

The new songs find Gallagher in impressive fettle. We’re On Our Way Now echoes Paul Weller during his Nineties renaissance, with its eloquent arrangements and a chorus that takes its time arriving.

He conjures more explicitly with the ghosts of Oasis on Flying On The Ground, which feels like it might have slotted somewhere between the scrappy ambition of (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory and the cocaine blizzards of Be Here Now.

The rest of the record will be familiar to High Flying Birds fans. The stand-out is perhaps the 2011 single AKA… What A Life!, one of the most experimental things Gallagher has ever done. There are hints of house piano, a bustling disco tempo and a melancholy hook that lands harder than anything Oasis put out post-Be Here Now. 

Given the financial rewards, an Oasis reunion may well be a question of “when” rather than “if”. But this compilation is a reminder Noel Gallagher deserves better than be pigeonholed as the guitar strumming yin to Liam’s swaggering yang.

Biig Piig – The Sky Is Bleeding

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June is barely upon us but end of summer melancholy infuses the new EP from Cork-born, London-based singer Jessica Smyth. One touchstone is Billie Eilish, who has famously endorsed Smyth as a talent to watch.

 The liquid pop of Remedy is, for example, infused with the same young adult ennui that has turned Eilish into a superstar (the tune winningly pairs Smyth’s whispered vocals with a haunting guitar).

Smyth ratchets up the tempo on Tarzan – delivering her verses in a pummelling spoken word style before delivering the creepy refrain of “candlelight, candlelight… that’s right’.

Pop stardom has changed and the success of Eilish and of Olivia Rodrigo shows there is room for artists prepared to delve into the often bleak minutiae of everyday life. That is Smyth’s forte too. And judging by this stunning new record the big time may beckon for Biig Piig.

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