"Tryin' to walk a mile in my shoes, but they don't belong to you," sings former Oasis mastermind Noel Gallagher only minutes into his solo debut. Trust us, Noel — nobody wants to strap on those retro boots of yours. It's hard not to lapse into gossipy "Gallagher vs. Gallagher" tactics here, especially with brother Liam's new band Beady Eye also releasing a debut this year. But if you want to go that route, High Flying Birds wins by KO. Old habits die hard: Birds drops its fair share of lyrical guano, and some of the string parts sound kinda schmaltzy. But Gallagher gets it right straight of the gate, and things get real heavy fast. The blistering opener "Everybody's on the Run" is crash-course Gallagher 101: Lennonesque melodic bends, bleary-eyed lyrical vagueness, and epic pop finesse. — Ryan Reed
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