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

by Jack Kiser Rating:7 Release Date:2017-11-24
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built the Moon?
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built the Moon?

The never-ending fallout saga between the Gallagher boys seems nothing short of routine and perfectly punctual. In early October, Liam released his debut solo album, As You Were, vigorously exclaiming that anything Noel could do, he could do much, much better. While I hate to continually compare the two, their full-fledged animosity soaked rivalry, makes it seemingly impossible. Channeling similar styles of play, the fraternal feud has nevertheless provided plenty of material to expand upon. Since I saw Liam perform at the debut of San Bernardino’s Cal Jam 17, promoting his new album, the non-stop buzz surrounding the post-Oasis juggernauts has refused to yield. Having to follow up and play in between the star studded line-up of the Foo Fighters, Cage the Elephant, and Wolf Alice, Liam seemed to be the most out of place character in this high caliber rock roster. In hilariously embarrassing fashion, Liam joined the Foo Fighters, Rick Astley, and Kills lead singer Alison Mosshart on stage, forcefully positioning his chaotic, inebriated state in the limelight. Days after, Noel advised that Liam should “seek consoling” among other prevalent insecurities that are under construction. Despite my visible disapproval of all things Liam Gallagher (debut album included), Noel continues to progress away from the expected frivolous Britpop sound and work towards a more glossy neo-psychedelia approach.

Captivating the world by storm, the formation of Oasis felt like it ended as quickly as it started.  Being labeled as pioneers and trailblazers of the second wave of Britpop, the duo was critically acclaimed and created two of the highest rated albums of the 1990’s. Sharing flavorful, sunshine characteristics from bands like Pulp, the Verve, and Blur, it was as visible as Margret Thatcher’s public disapproval that these bands were going to revolutionize the sound. After monotonous years of on-stage debacles and tiring alcoholic drenched antics, the creeping breakup between the two brothers was as transparent as ever. Separating from each other musically was just the initial ascent into a bloody Siamese-twin detachment, involving a thread of creative rights and publishing income legal showdowns. Eventually moving past the perilous logistical side of their hatred, Noel debuted his first self-titled album in 2011, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Noticeably removed from their tenuous radio twee, the oldest brother was making a sizeable ripple in the Thames River. Fast-forwarding seven years, Who Built the Moon illustrates the echo laden holding pattern between crumbling civilization below and the desperate escape to higher ground. Overall, Gallagher takes the listener on an airborne expedition with generous splashes of specific influences ranging from traditional English sunshine pop to acidic Americana. One or two songs fully deserve the rights for designated radio play, while the rest is regrettably familiar, but nonetheless, undeniably creative.

The first song on the record embellishes a Celtic dub introduction, while quickly blossoming into a Foster the People-type heavy pop landscape. The larger than life sound exists and radiates all the way up to the third track, “Keep on Reaching”. The height of this brass adventure allows the listener to absorb distant percussion and vocal attributes that almost seem aerial at times. Continuing on, “It’s a Beautiful World” evokes early Chemical Brothers with a mixed aura of western guitar reverb, establishing an exhausted state of paranoia. Noel seems to return to his natural state as a Britpop crustacean with “Black and White Sunshine”, bursting out of the gates with boppy La’s hooks and lustrous instrumentation. It feels like an open road anthem, racing towards the address of the cute gal in the coffee shop you somehow managed to score a number from, while simultaneously trying not to total your 1200 quid moped. The last song that particularly stood out to me was, “If Love is the Law”, essentially removing geographical barriers by including Fleet Foxes northwestern folk charm with catchy runaway harmonica riffs that only the southeast could emulate. It is heavy and appears folkloric, but the narrative still possesses watermarks from a distant and troubled past. Many of these tracks contain traceable elements of well-crafted neo-psychedelia by veteran producer David Holmes, however, at times, Gallagher displays reservation and continues on the path of familiarity with expected sounds of glossy pop. Execution has remained an obstacle for Noel, but the ability to integrate diverse elements into this record has given him a reason to remain content.

As stated previously, it is difficult to display signs of musical gratitude when you are talking about the sour attitudes of Liam and Noel Gallagher. The two brothers undoubtedly champion the villan-esque caricatures of modern alternative rock. While Liam released a record that showed he put as much effort into it as a hungover plumber, Noel took the opposite approach and channeled various influences from all across the world. Throughout his rollercoaster career, Noel, despite internal emotional vulnerability, wishes to grasp a better understanding about the musical world around him.

Ending note: Don’t listen to Liam Gallagher’s new album.  

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