Heading back to the council estate of his early days, just a few years after saying he could “respect” the no-nonsense attitude of Margaret Thatcher, Noel Gallagher rattles off a track about his origins. After all, that was when art was most fruitful according to the man who made his most notorious works under John Major. No matter where anyone goes in life their roots are always with them. Gallagher has done his best to sever his off, both his early years and his commercially successful guitar-rock group Oasis. He is now back and reliant on them once again on his newest single, Council Skies. The well runs dry when sticking to the same sound. Gallagher is chopping and changing with little to show for it.
Damon Albarn made an animated hip-hop group. Jarvis Cocker recorded his latest album in a cave. Change is important. Gallagher steers through with the broad and safely relatable, condescending notes he always does on Council Skies. That lack of change is fatal. He has found a style and stuck to it. A completely passable and acceptable showcase of his guitaring ways and lyrical qualities. He comes in waves of no extensive or thunderous impression. Council Skies is proof enough that the man is doomed to coast along with relatively plucky attempts at rekindling some youth in his sound. The contrite clapping, the upbeat symmetry and the glazed look back at a culture that has moved far beyond what Gallagher projects onto it is a stunning yet acceptably fine mess.
Slightly tuned up with some electronic filtering, Gallagher’s voice is not an incredible force but it does the job. Gallagher’s ambition was found under those titular skies, and they are confirmed lost under them too. Council Skies hopes to hold optimism and upbeat intention, but it fails to factor in reality. The real world is not as twee and methodically wrought. Whether that is ripping up the cobbles and cornerstones he used to parade around on with a glib nostalgia or getting Oasis back together is yet to be thoroughly seen. Where he may not literally prise at the pavement of Burnage, he tries as best he can to mount some emotional return to the struggling lives of those in working-class communities, looking back not with anger but a sentimental turn of disingenuous reflection. Take a peek at that Manchester City logo in the background of the video on stage. At least Gallagher is making it clear he nicks some good ideas from Sam Fender and the football love as part of the act.
Broadly fine and fundamentally unchallenging, Council Skies is another Gallagher track. Those that like his style and his sound are in for no surprise. It is not “biblical” as his brother would often stake a claim in, even though Liam’s solo records are, at best, light and forgettable. Nor is it awful, though. It is completely and entirely placid. Neither entertaining nor horrendous. It slaps of an irony that Gallagher, a man whose political sway is that of nowhere, should drum up politically charged maintenance for streets he was brought up on. A simple love song placed on the backdrop of a place, feeling and sound charted better by the bands of today rather than a bloke digging up his past and fleecing it and the location. Gallagher fails to convince of real people on Council Skies, some brash and heavy instrumental production and those filthy strings used once more to convey nothing but nostalgia. No dedication to the truth of himself, no consideration of how times have changed.