The first impressions were far from promising. There was the tracklisting - an embarrassment of brackets and ellipses. There were a pair of ancient Oasis off-cuts 'Stop The Clocks' and '(I Wanna Live In A Dream in My) Record Machine', meaning just eight properly new songs.
Then there was lead single 'The Death of You and Me' - a pleasant enough summer strum, but really nothing all that special. So, are we left pining for the much more energetic secondhand rock of Noel's shouty brother? Naaah.
Despite all the hints to the contrary, Gallagher has managed to shrug off potentially suffocating expectations to record what could be his best album since (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. While there's nothing out of the ordinary here (the weirdness will no doubt come with that Amorphous Androgynous-produced follow-up), Noel has quietly and simply stuck together ten irresistibly melodic tracks that rub shoulders with some of his finest Oasis moments.
The trademark tear-jerking melancholy of 'If I Had A Gun' and 'AKA... Broken Arrow' are up there with all those weepy B-sides he used to chuck out for fun in the old days. '(Stranded On) The Wrong Side Of The Tracks' is the perfect slice of Scousepop Lee Mavers has been threatening to write for more than 20 years.
Where the endless hype around 'All Around The World' deflated into ten minutes of tedious disappointment in '97, the delicately-layered '(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine' and 'Stop The Clocks' just about do justice to their decade-long build-up. 'Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks' shows that at the age of 44, Noel Gallagher is still growing as a songwriter. After this impressive rebirth, we're already excited about where he goes from here.
Tracks to download: 'Everybody's On The Run', 'If I Had A Gun...', 'AKA... Broken Arrow', 'Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks'
If you like this, you'll like: The Kinks, The Last Shadow Puppets, The La's
Watch the Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds 'AKA... What A Life!' music video below: