Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: Who Built The Moon?

Who Built the Moon? is Noel Gallagher’s third quasi-solo-album since the acrimonious demise of Oasis. Album titles have never been a strong suit of Noel’s and Who Built the Moon? sounds like something a seventeen year old says after coughing on their first puff of a joint. The brains behind Oasis, Noel has continuously reinvented his sound over these three albums while retaining the swagger and relative simplicity that remain the classic hallmarks of his songwriting. It is perhaps no surprise that of Noel’s quasi-solo discography, Who Built The Moon? is the most upbeat and positive, given that Chris Sharrock and Gem Archer, two former Oasis members, have rejoined Noel on guitar and drums respectively. The opening track, Fort Knox, hypes things up with thunderous drums and reverb, with a gospel refrain imploring the listener to “get” themselves “together”. This track would not sound out of place as menu music in the latest FIFA video game.

The lead single, Holy Mountain is a pastiche of plundered soundbites, and features Paul Weller of The JamThe Style Council, and, well, Paul Weller on organ. The flute riff is taken from an obscure ‘60’s bubblegum pop non-hit called Chewing Gum Kid, and once you realise the chorus strongly resembles the Ricky Martin classic She Bangs it cannot be unheard. Some might argue the intro and verse are also reminiscent of Bowie’s Suffragette City and/or Brian Ferry’s Let’s Stick Together. Nevertheless it is a monster of a tune, and would you prefer it not to exist?

The first three tracks emphatically announce the psychedelic summer of love but supersonic turn-it-up-to-eleven sound of the album. The vocals on She Taught Me How To Fly and It’s a Beautiful World are soaked with reverb and psychedelic guitar effects, with the latter clearly influenced by late ‘90’s Chemical Brothers, with whom Gallagher has previously collaborated. She Taught Me How To Fly is a genuinely cool love song -and that’s not an oxymoron- Gallagher’s lyrics of the one he loves drift dreamily above the driving guitar chops and the actual clicking of classroom scissors which are audible amongst the pulsating drums.

If Love Is The Law is an understated highlight on an album without lowlights, featuring fellow Mancunian Johnny Marr on guitar and harmonica. The lyric “if love is the law then this is a crime” is a memorable quip. In comparison to the overproduced wall-of-sound of which the album is predominantly comprised, the warmth of the acoustic guitars and natural drum sound is emphasised.

Noel, the more musically adventurous of the brothers Gallagher, has always experimented, albeit mildly, with the form of the long-playing album. This particular album begins with a rhythm-led semi-instrumental to ‘lube’ up the listener, as it were, as Noel has previously done with Fuckin In The Bushes’ on Oasis’ fourth album Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants’. Another nod to the past, this time Morning Glory and Heathen Chemistry, there are instrumental interludes breaking up the album. Two interludes entitled Wednesday Part 1 and Part 2 reinforce that Who Built The Moon? is less an album and more a musical journey.

Who Built The Moon? is bold, exciting, and adventurous but still showcases Gallagher’s uncanny knack of effortlessly laying down stadium anthems with guitar and vocal hooks that get stuck in your head without being annoying. While the production and musical compositions themselves may be complex -at least relative to the Gallagher discography- and at times other-worldly, the album lacks any profound emotional depth. However, looking for emotional complexity in the music of any Gallagher brother is like searching for an economics graduate at a Greens rally. We live in a time of impending nuclear war, and Noel, although being no mere mortal, believes we should at least space out and try and enjoy ourselves.

- Harry Rival Lee.


Album Details

Album Title: Who Built The Moon?
Artist: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Record Label: (Caroline / Universal)