Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Who Built the Moon?


3.8
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
November 24th, 2017 | 53 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Noel aims for the moon, has trouble getting off the ground.

After a huge guitar wail announcing exactly how faithful its worship of psychedelic rock will be, Who Built the Moon" kicks off with the sound of a jet engine ramping up. It's a fair bet to call it a tongue-in-cheek reference to "D'You Know What I Mean"", the 7-minute behemoth somehow managing to have a snarl in its title which opened the coked-up palace of excess Be Here Now. The reference makes a weird kind of sense; while Who Built the Moon" avoids some of the bombast and confines its songs below seven minutes, there may be no closer analogue in Noel's body of work than the multi-layered, colossal overconfidence of Be Here Now.

That's all surface level stuff, though, because beneath the psychedelic bluster and cluttered production job, this is still mostly the same old Noel. The man's been doing one thing for most of his career, and continuing to do it well even post-Oasis, as proved by the High Flying Birds' highly replayable self-titled. If Moon was marketed as a massive departure, it only occasionally lives up – in the near wordless Hendrix rave-out "Fort Knox", the surreal folk of the "Wednesday" pieces, and most obviously the freaky Eastern-tinged shuffler "Be Careful What You Wish For", a lot of which comes off as Dig Out Your Soul's navel-gazing experiments done exponentially better. Obvious singles "Holy Mountain" and "Keep On Reaching" slather good pop melodies beneath layers of brass and bass and wah-wah, but the poor mixing prevents them from doing anything more than trudge along stolidly. But we are, by law, guaranteed at least one vintage Noel cut each album – all respects due to "If I Had a Gun..." and "Riverman" - and this time one even comes with Johnny Marr in the package deal. "If Love is the Law" finally allows the music to breathe, trading in the suffocating rock for acoustics and harmonica, while "She Taught Me How to Fly" uses the layering to its advantage and builds a stunning soundscape from the simplest ingredients, like cool air in the desert under a shimmering heat haze.

If Who Built the Moon" gets too lost inside its own wanderlust to actually search very far, it's a fault of composition rather than ambition. Unless the Amorphous Androgynous collaboration ever makes its way out of the vaults, we're not likely to hear Noel prodding at his well-defined boundaries in a more well-intentioned manner again, and certainly never while maintaining such a golden heart of pop songsmithery. Gallagher can still pump out timeless melodies like they're barbed comments to an interviewer, and his confidence in delivering both has only become stronger with time and experience. For now, Noel's planted on Earth with the rest of us common folk, staring up at the stars. And maybe that's alright.



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user ratings (58)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
ZackSh33 (2.5)
Psychedelic for the sake of it...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2017


39516 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

oh man the question mark --> quotation mark curse is real on this one

Digging: Glassjaw - Material Control

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
November 24th 2017


17127 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

When is that getting fixed? Been a problem for weeks now smh

Digging: Skitz - Countryman

sugarcubes
November 24th 2017


224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty good album

Digging: Duplicate Tape - Duplicate Tape

schoonda
November 24th 2017


959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review man, agree with you on the mixing here, some of it is horrid. It's cool to see him mix it up a bit but the first half falls pretty flat for me.

Digging: Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains

StickFeit
November 24th 2017


698 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Loved his debut.. but I'm afraid to listen to this.

zakalwe
November 24th 2017


23744 Comments


Wish the whole album was like the bonus track

Digging: Swarms - Black Chapel Sun

zakalwe
November 24th 2017


23744 Comments


Really like ‘she taught me how to fly’ good old Noel.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2017


39516 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

yeah that is a stone cold banger and my favourite here



bonus track is tremendous but I can't imagine a studio version living up, and the live one would stick out like a sore thumb on the tracklist so I get the bside relegation.



anyway how we would know it's a Noel release if he didn't leave one of the best tunes off? dude is ridiculous and I love it

zakalwe
November 24th 2017


23744 Comments


I have to say row this review is the bollocks. Nice one.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2017


39516 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

thanks lad. liked the album more than I thought I would from the first single. better than that absolute stinker of a Liam album anyways



what do you think of the first one zak? A Simple Game of Genius is an all time tune for me and it's a fuckin EP track

zakalwe
November 24th 2017


23744 Comments


There’s some great tunes on it, yeah Genius is class.
Noel as a songwriter is up there with the best I’d love to have a pint with the bloke.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2017


39516 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Noel's lyrics may be absolute nonsense, but I think only Neil from Crowded House can write a better melody than Noel at his best. he is the man

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
November 24th 2017


5979 Comments


lovely review, Row.. don't know if i'll check this though, never was too big on Oasis even..

MayhemWithMercy
November 24th 2017


6188 Comments


Is this better than As you were

heylyla
November 24th 2017


105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wish this had been on the album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9ZrgleyX0g



Wonder if the whole album coulda been like it, if not for David Holmes

Futures
November 24th 2017


9987 Comments


^^^^ holy fuck that song man. absolutely incredible. one of his best. seriously flooring. one of the best live singers as well. he nailed that so hard, couldn't have done it better. never been so hyped to check something.

zakalwe
November 24th 2017


23744 Comments


Yeah it really is a classic tune that one despite the sad song/talk tonight similarities. If Noel had released a stripped back acoustic album of similar stuff it it would’ve been fucking class but giving the bloke credit, he does what he does and that’s it.

Futures
November 24th 2017


9987 Comments


i appreciate him doing something different finally with this. he can crank out classic rockin tunes like no other. and yeah talk tonight is like top 5 oasis for me. an album like that would be magical but he probably wouldn't want to do it. one of the best songwriters of his generation.

zakalwe
November 24th 2017


23744 Comments


The albums defo growing on me. I dig it. Would love to see him belting out a few of these live.

zakalwe
November 24th 2017


23744 Comments


God bless Noel Gallagher. An actual ‘rock star’

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhVtYnn_7VU



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