Noel Gallagher - Council; Skies art album

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Council Skies (Album Review)

Noel Gallagher - 2023 photo

The past fourteen years since the dissolvement of Oasis has been rather interesting. A known fact that Noel and Liam Gallagher have had their internal strife, it was not all too much of a shock when they parted ways… but no one would know what would happen next. What happened is a rather lengthy story of new musical projects on both brother’s part; Liam going on with Beady Eye through 2014, before solo offerings, and Noel turning his attention to his High Flying Birds in 2010. A band dubbed Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, they have had their own success over the course of several albums. Almost immediately finding an audience, their 2011 self-titled debut struck many, as did 2015’s Chasing Yesterday, followed by 2017’s Who Built the Moon? Releasing three more Eps – Black Star Dancing (2019), This Is the Place (2019) and Blue Moon Rising (2020) – in 2023 they return with their first full-length record since 2017.

Six long years after a new album, Noel and company returned with Council Skies on June 2nd through Sour Mash Records. The album, consisting of eleven tracks, is an eclectic mix of sounds and styles that can only be described as compelling. Willing to explore with instrumentation and style, the album’s approach seems to be purely a case of curiosity and imagination. What does this mean exactly? It means the songs that make up Council Skies are not necessarily fitting into one shape, but act as free form exploration. In truth, they feel like a child was given a canvas and not restricted to boundaries, but instead given the chance to gaze into the clouds and let their imaginations run while.

Taking this in account, this freedom matches wonderfully veteran musical skills of Noel, and his band consisting of Mike Rowe (keyboards), Russell Pritchard (bass), Chris Sharrock (drums), Gem Archer (guitar), and Jessica Greenfield (keyboards). A trip that began back in 2022, it all started with the release of the jangling single “Pretty Boy,” to follow in early 2023 with the delightful “Easy Now,” star-gazing “Dead to the World” in March, smooth “Council Skies” in April, before the ultra-catchy “Open the Door, See What You Find” in May. All featuring a slightly different vibe – some more upbeat, others more mellow – in all, they have the same dreamy sonic aura. Joining them, other high points include “Think of a Number,” and the most recently released single “We’re Gonna Get There In the End” which is further proof of Noel’s unwillingness to conform.

In all, Council Skies could be one of the most captivating albums released in all of 2023. Musically stimulating the senses, for those who just want to dive into the instrumentation of it all, there is also the deluxe edition of Council Skies out which several instrumental versions of songs, remixes, but also a great cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games,” a re-recorded version of the Oasis track “Don’t Stop,” a new session recording of Oasis’ “Live Forever,” as well as a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” All bonuses to the meat and potatoes that is Council Skies, Cryptic Rock commend Noel Gallagher and his band for producing some great tunes, and as a result give it 5 out of 5 stars. 

Noel Gallagher - Council Skies artwork
Noel Gallagher – Council Skies / Sour Mash (2023)

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