Noel Gallagher was once famously asked in an interview to sum up Oasis in one word. His answer: "Me."
If you accept the premise he was the sonic architecht and brains behind the outfit -- and I do -- it should be no surprise the first single from his High Flying Birds LP mines his previous Oasis work.
The A-Side "The Death Of You And Me" draws from his whimsical side as evidenced in "The Importance Of Being Idle" from Don't Believe The Truth. He also once again dips into his love for big arrangements and Burt Bacharach something he demonstrated on the Oasis B-side "Going Nowhere." "Going Nowhere" employed that big arrangement in a classicist pop sense. On "Death," he uses those elements in a more swirling, chaotic, and -- dare I say -- psychedelic manner but there's no mistaking the similarity.
Gallagher can be uneven as a lyricist and I'm not entirely sure what to make of "The Death Of You And Me" on that front as I'm still processing them. There are places the vocals are prominent and others where they're buried; I'm still learning the words, to say nothing of actually decoding what they all might mean. I will say I love that shortly after leaving Oasis he marries his longtime girlfriend and the first song he releases is called "The Death Of You And Me." The man has a sense of humo(u)r and I love him for it.
Fans of Oasis also know some of the best songs in the band's canon came in the form of their B-sides; this was often because these were songs Noel wrote and sang. Does "The Good Rebel" stand up among the great Oasis B-sides? Sort of.
Unlike many Gallagher-penned Oasis B-sides, "The Good Rebel" is not a solo acoustic affair but is a rather punchy song with a great melody and not much else. The lyrics are rather banal but it has a great hook and Gallagher's overdubbed vocal harmonies are more memorable than the song itself.
We've got our first single and Gallagher has made another album track -- "If I Had A Gun" available to stream. Taking those two songs together, I have a pretty good idea why "Rebel" didn't make the cut. "Death" and "Gun" have a common sonic thread running through them; they're different but sound like they belong on an album together. Neither are great pop songs that scream for radio airplay but they fit comfortably within the context of Noel's canon of songs and it's easy to hear both of them interspersed with the hits Gallagher sang while with Oasis.
With two album tracks and one B-side available, an aural blueprint of Noel Gallagher's direction is visible. I don't know how many non-Oasis fans will come along for the ride but for those who've been on the bandwagon since the beginning, this is everything we could hope for. October just can't get here soon enough.