Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds has just released its third record. We examine.
Truth be told, I was never the biggest Oasis fan back in the day. I found the irreverent quirkiness of Britpop counterpart Blur infinitely more enticing, and the pretentiousness of the Gallagher brothers off-putting to say the least, not to mention the blatant and tiring aspiration to be the next Beatles. Admittedly, between all the feuding and all the fisticuffs, Oasis pumped out some perfectly fine tunes (none of which is Wonderwall, by the way), but the band never really grasped my attention. Since they broke up, Liam has been going all retro with his disappointing Beady Eye project, whilst Noel has found an outlet via his High Flying Birds, with which he has just released his third album.
For all it’s worth, Who Built The Moon? is easily the most eclectic collection of songs he has released so far. Ironically, it might also be his most Beatle-esque album to date. It may be a little too familiar on the Beatles side of things, but I’ll touch on that a bit later. Who Built the Moon? features eleven songs, three of which are a (mostly) instrumental intro, interlude and outro, respectively. Which leaves eight proper songs and a total running time falling just short of the fourteen minute mark. Fort Knox is a good intro to lead the listener into the album. The song is a strange mix of electronica and tribal sounds and a choir chanting indistinctly, all thrown together to form a hypnotising cacophony.
The first proper song on the album, and also the first single released, is Holy Mountain, which is some weirdly amalgamation of the horn section from Bryan Ferry’s Let’s Stick Together and the weirdness of Plastic Bertrand’s Ca Plane Pour Moi with a healthy dose of retro rock ‘n roll thrown in for good measure. It’s an upbeat song and a great album opener, even if it’s easily the most accessible track on here and nothing that follows actually sounds anything like it. Most of all though, it’s fun. Sheer, unadulterated fun which I never quite expected from any of the two Gallaghers.
Holy Mountain is followed by Keep On Reaching, which ventures very far into pop/electro territory with its frencied drum rhythm and synthesized horns. It’s A Beautiful World follows, which perhaps reminds a bit too much of Paul McCartney’s work on the last The Fireman album, with its very clear chords and echoing choruses. Be Careful What You Wish For has the same problem, unabashedly borrowing the cadence of the Fab Four’s Come Together. The band gives it its own particular vibe throughout, but the resemblance is uncanny.
Luckily, the more original sounding material is great. Black & White Sunshine is a top-notch rock track featuring a killer riff and ditto chorus line, and The Man Who Built The Moon is a standout track on its own, just about justifying the purchase of the record on its own. It’s a proper closing track to end the album on (for a moment not counting the rather splendid outro End Credits (Wednesday Part 2)). It’s big and loud and pompous, and you can’t end a record in a better way than that in my book.
Who Built The Moon? is a genuinely impressive album, and remarkably cohesive considering the range of styles between the eleven songs. There’s enough variation to keep you on your toes, and just shy of 45 minutes, Who Built The Moon? is the perfect length for a quirky rock ‘n roll record like this.
Label: Sour Mash
Release: out now
- Fort Knox
- Holy Mountain
- Keep on Reaching
- It’s a Beautiful World
- She Taught Me How to Fly
- Be Careful What You Wish For
- Black & White Sunshine
- Interlude (Wednesday Part 1)
- If Love Is the Law
- The Man Who Built the Moon
- End Credits (Wednesday Part 2)
- Noel Gallagher – guitars, vocals
- Jason Falkner – bass guitar
- Keefus Cianda – keyboards
- Jeremy Stacey – drums
Review by Ralph Plug