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Noel Gallagher is back with optimism about “Council Skies,” his first album since 2017

Noel Gallagher is back with optimism about “Council Skies,” his first album since 2017

Brown rocker status no longer suits Noel Gallagher. Tired of airing dirty linen in public with his Blur countrymen or his long-running feud with his brother Liam, the man seems calm today.

“I think my style of music brings optimism into the lyrics and lyrics. But it’s not something I think about, it’s something that comes naturally to me,” he says via phone call from his farm in Dorset, UK.

Belief in a Better Tomorrow packs the new album from the former leader of the oasis. On “Council Skies,” Gallagher and the High Flying Birds weave ’90s rock for the post-pandemic decade. Ballads with easily digestible, yet eloquent arrangements—characteristic of the British artist’s work—set the tone for the record.

But this time Gallagher wants to point to a future — not just a better future, but one that doesn’t build on his past work.

“I wrote all the songs during the pandemic lockdown,” Gallagher says. “I wouldn’t say it’s a dream album, but it’s a reflective album. The pandemic in the UK was horrible, so I kept thinking about what might happen next.”

One of the songs on the new album, Open the Door, See What You Find, invites reflection on the calm after the storm — in this case, the months ravaged by the pandemic. Accompanied by bells, bands of prosthetic violin and an old-fashioned rock choir, Gallagher sings “Open the door and see what you find, don’t look away”.

“I’m an optimist person, and I don’t like hearing despair in songs,” Gallagher says. “Making this kind of music feels right to me because I make music for myself, that’s my style, I don’t make music for others.”
In ten tracks and an album with remixes and alternate versions, the musician offers an alternative to the scalded arena rock of bands like Coldplay while staying in the contemplative rock tradition. On “Pretty Boy”, Gallagher and the band appear to be independent. They take a chance on electronic and dance tunes. It is independent in form, not in craft.
“My albums only come out when they are ready and that’s it,” says the musician. “I’m not under pressure from labels and just do what I want, at my own pace.” It took two and a half years of work, between drafts of lyrics and studio sessions. It’s an eternity given today’s frantic pop times — and also a privilege that only meds like Gallagher can afford.

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Another privilege is the selection of stars to embark on their projects. On “Council Skies”, Gallagher shared a studio with Johnny Marr. One of Gallagher’s then-young idols was living in Manchester in the 1980s, former Al Smith guitarist. “It was like we were making music together, not collaborating,” says Gallagher, who was not used to the partnerships and invitations left in today’s pop.

The artist’s own pace of production helps explain why the band has toured so little since 2011, when they released their first solo album. The new album, almost ten years after its release, promises new milestones. “My music today is not 90’s music anymore, but when I go on tour I play my old songs,” he says. “I think I’ll go to South America with this tour, maybe next year.”

Gallagher’s most prolific new album — now four Gallagher compositions to his brother’s three — casts new shadows on former Oasis fans’ dreams of a comeback for the group. Those who followed this era of British rock renewed hope for a Blur reunion – the group goes on a world tour after the release of a new album.

In a conversation where mention of “Oasis” was forbidden, the musician was very perceptive when asked about britpop, a term coined by the last great generation of British rockers. “Blur is on tour, so I think Britpop will be back,” says the die-hard Manchester City fan, who can’t seem to fit in with any team other than his own.

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ski board

Where: On digital platforms

Author: High Flying Birds by Noel Gallagher

Label: Sour Mash Records