CD: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built The Moon The ex-Oasis man spreads his wings
First, an admission. I've never quite got the appeal of the Gallagher brothers. In particular, I've found their claims that each post-Oasis album represents some bold new horizon a little risible. And yet there is something intriguing about the brothers' 2017 output. Liam's As You Were came out a few weeks ago and now there's Noel's new one. True to form, the brothers have been trading insults all month.
They've also been taking every opportunity to claim their album's the best. That is a matter of opinion. But what's indisputable is that the two records take opposite approaches. Liam's looks back to the glory years. Who Built the Moon? really seems to offer something new. This is in no small part down the album's producer, DJ and soundtrack composer David Holmes. Gallagher and Holmes have known each other since 2013 when the latter was asked to produce Chasing Yesterday. He declined and, instead, invited Noel into his studio to make a new album.
The result is Gallagher's most expansive record to date. Or at least evidence that he really does possess influences beyond Lennon and McCartney. Take lead single "Holy Mountain". On social media, fans are saying it sounds like a blend of the Vaccines, Mott the Hoople and Ricky Martin. If that sounds a little schizophrenic, elsewhere things are more coherent. There are a couple of sweet instrumentals ("Interlude" and "End Credits"), a nice nod to early Madchester ("She Taught Me to Fly") and a leftfield homage to Phil Spector ("If Love Is the Law). Finally, it wouldn't be Noel without at least one tender pastiche of the Fab Four: "Be Careful What You Wish For" is like a trippy remix of "Come Together".
Musically then, it's all pretty absorbing stuff. The lyrics, unsurprisingly, are not of the same quality. "She Taught Me How to Fly" contains such profundities as "The one I love/ She's divine/ She’s out to blow my mind". No one comes to a High Flying Birds album expecting Bob Dylan, but in the hope that Gallagher Snr will show he's capable of new and interesting things. On that count Who Built the Moon? scores pretty well.