Album Review: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built the Moon? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Album Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon?

Noel Gallagher's third solo effort sees him trying for a fresh sound, but did he succeed? Martha Bird has the verdict

There is far less reliance on the electric guitar, instead using ‘cut and paste experimentation’ to create this whirlwind mix of electro, dance, and rock
The new Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds album Who Built the Moon? is released on November 24th, and is Gallagher’s third solo album, following the acclaimed 2015 album Chasing Yesterday. The album features The Smiths’ Johnny Marr on the guitar and The Jam’s Paul Weller on the organ. The album is the product of two years of collaboration with DJ David Holmes, and if you were expecting it to have that typical Oasis sound, you’re going to be surprised.

Unlike Liam Gallagher’s new album As You Were, this album bursts away from anything we’ve heard in Britpop. Noel Gallagher described in an interview with Rolling Stone how David Holmes would point out when something sounded too much like Oasis, and steer him towards a ‘more High Flying Birds sound’. Even so, I think this album moves even further away from anything we’ve seen even in Noel’s other solo ventures so far.

There is far less reliance on the electric guitar, instead using ‘cut and paste experimentation’ to create this whirlwind mix of electro, dance, and rock. There is a clear inspiration from Eastern music throughout the album, with an eclectic range of obscure samples and instrumentals. Influenced by everything from French psychedelic rock to Kanye West, Gallagher manages to at once be inspired by the Beatles’ move to a more psychedelic sound, but he creates something new from that.

Gallagher seems to be bursting out of the confines of his Britpop past into a psychedelic soundwave of an album
The album opens with ‘Fort Knox’, which Gallagher says was inspired by Kanye West’s ‘Fade’. It’s an intense opening to the album, with incredible samples and instrumentals that really set the tone for the songs that follow. From intense psychedelic rock, Gallagher bounces straight into what is by far my favourite song on the album, ‘Holy Mountain’, an amazing dance/disco track reminiscent of Bowie’s pop. I find it hard to believe listening to this song wouldn’t make you want to boogie, and even Gallagher – known for his cynicism and moodiness - said of this song ‘There is so much joy in it’.

The song, ‘It’s a Beautiful World’, features a French spoken word piece, translating at the end to ‘relax and rest in peace / it’s only the end of the world’ which really captures the mood of the album for me. The song could be in the background of an arthouse film, giving off Velvet Underground and Elbow vibes in an incredibly dreamy way.

There has been a clear change in Gallagher’s creative process, with Holmes asking Gallagher not to come up with a song or idea and build on it, but instead to opt for guitars and instrumentals and instead riff off that. The album is chaotic and messy in an incredible way; Gallagher seems to be bursting out of the confines of his rock/Britpop past into a psychedelic soundwave of an album.

'Who Built the Moon?' is available to stream now. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds will play Birmingham Arena on 1st May 2018. Tickets are available here.

 



Published

5th December 2017 at 9:00 am



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