So Noel Gallagher has finally found his dream band: one that doesn’t include his brother. This solo-band debut doesn’t quite pick up where Oasis left off, preferring to leave out the old electronica for a more classic pop approach — which is fitting, as Noel’s singing voice always evinced more sincerity and less attitude than Liam’s. The obligatory Beatles references are here, with synthesized “Penny Lane” horns on “Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks,” but the album draws from a wider sweep of Britpop, from the Kinks to XTC. To, well, Oasis: “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine,” great title and all, is essentially “Champagne Supernova” 2.0. And oddly, Noel includes count-offs before a handful of tracks, making the album sound more casual than it obviously was. If anything’s missing, it’s Oasis’s sense of mission. They considered themselves the greatest band in the world and were determined to live up to that every time out. In contrast, Noel’s album — lovingly crafted, and a bit of a proud throwback — is the stuff that power-pop cult-hero status is made of.
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