Album Of The Week: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Council Skies

On his fourth album with the High Flying Birds, Noel drifts in a daydream with an acoustic guitar by his side

It might have something to do with his famously beloved football club winning their fifth Premier League title in six seasons, but recently Noel Gallagher has seemed to be more in love with Manchester than ever. Heck, perhaps giddy on hometown nostalgia he even told a French radio host the other day that his brother “should get his people to call my people”, regarding an Oasis reunion.

But if you try and avoid the TalkSport bravado or the old will-they-won’t-they chestnut, look then to the 56-year-old’s new album, Council Skies, which both visually and musically places Moss Side at its centre. “It’s going back to the beginning,” Gallagher said of his first full-length in six years. “Daydreaming, looking up at the sky and wondering about what life could be.”

Daydreaming is the emphasis here on an album that lilts and floats gently at its own pace. “Taking the long way home/ So we can be alone/ Catching the butterfly”, he sings on the title track, a search for a symbol of colour at odds with the record’s title and cover. There’s even a touch of Midnight In Paris‘ magic realism to ‘Dead To The World’ thanks to a little accordion and glockenspiel twinkle.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Council Skies (Official Video)

Clouds and dreams and shadow and starry skies are the backdrop to much of Council Skies, as Gallagher gets lost in reflection – however familiar he is with the streets he walks – and gives advice to someone, a past life perhaps, like “Ride the storm/ Let it take your weight and she will guide you home” or “Heavy is the head that wears a hollow crown”.

With an acoustic at his side throughout, the musical world around him is lush and orchestral, blury edged and pleasingly layered, though moments such as the Johnny Marr featuring ‘Pretty Boy’ know when to add some oomph and traction. The experience is best enjoyed as a 45-minute whole, though the singles also speak for themselves. It’s a world away from the arena sized experiments of Who Built The Moon?, but down on Earth, down on the streets of Moss Side, Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds invite you to get lost in a dream.

Released: 2 June 2023
Label: Sour Mash
On TourJuly – December 2023