NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS Black Star Dancing EP gets 5.5/10

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Black Star Dancing EP
Sour Mash/Caroline


Noel Gallagher is restless and lost in a musical wilderness, but the former Oasis giant refuses to let up and continues to cautiously explore new avenues of sound. Despite this energy, Gallagher’s Black Star Dancing EP with his High Flying Birds, falls flat. The release features five tracks, though in reality there are only three.

Black Star Dancing (the title track) is a far departure from other High Flying Birds releases. Gallagher has put aside the rip and roar of his guitar, and tries his hand at a muted dance-disco number. The track is featured two more times on the EP, first as a 12” mix, and then something called “The Reflex Revision” which lasts a solid 10 minutes. It’s a shame because the song feels irrelevant. It’s a far cry from the roaring 1996 collaboration with the Chemical Brothers that resulted in Setting Sun. It’s hard to enjoy Black Star Dancing when it’s clear Gallagher rarely steps into a nightclub, and has had a mixed relationship with dance music in recent years. At this moment, he seems to be swooning over the genre.  

Rattling Rose is the strongest song on the EP and warrants plenty of replay. It also sorely needs the raspy snarl of younger brother Liam Gallagher to carry it forward. Perhaps it’s nostalgia (it’s even got the signature Liam tambourine rattle), but it’s certainly a time machine back to the final chapters of Oasis when the group was coming back to form with simple “ode to Brit-pop” songwriting from albums like Don’t Believe The Truth and Dig Out Your Soul.

Sail On brings listeners back to the familiar Noel Gallagher balladeer sound. He’s still got the gift for charming, journeyman melodies with a dash of introspection. In fact, the song comes across as a self-motivator and you can imagine it’s all part of the wilderness exploration taking place.

You can liken this era of Noel Gallagher’s music to another idol he holds up high: Sir Paul McCartney. If you dig for it, you’ll find the similarities. When The Beatles imploded, McCartney ventured out into the 70s releasing music that dabbled in genres across the musical spectrum (much of it fell flat), until finally finding hit making stability through his next group Wings.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds are no different. Black Star Dancing is a good example of Gallagher trying to find new footing. Who knows what will emerge, but as long as he keeps creating, we can only hope for better things to come. He has certainly got the chops to make it happen.


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