When you think of Noel Gallagher in 2017, there is a good chance that you think of one of two things: Oasis’ overplayed, but forever legendary, “Wonderwall,” or the constant insulting and bickering between him and his brother, Liam Gallagher, in the news and on Twitter. Well, with his new album being released just last week, you just might have a third thing to think of when you hear about the 50-year -ld singer/songwriter. Although, it might not be the most positive thought you have ever had about him, because Who Built The Moon? varies in its perception due to its immense variations between genres and songs.
Honestly, I was ready to skip the first track “Fort Knox” all together when I was almost 45 seconds in and had yet to even hear a voice. That 40-something seconds that I will never get back were not instrumental, but electronic sounds and beats that aggravated me to no end. Not to mention that there was an under laid background sound of a plane flying over head, which I would normally find a unique and inspired choice, but in this case only further aggravated me. I have nothing against electronic remixes, but this is an original track! The overproduction of it does not seem like a great choice for an introductory track. Rolling Stone called it “rave rock,” which, personally, is not always my cup of tea. If it’s yours, try to sit back and enjoy it.
“Holy Mountain” and “Keep On Reaching” brought my hope for this album back to the forefront, as it combines styles from earlier work with a fresh taste of what is considered modern day’s alternative rock. There is substance to these songs that the introductory one lacked, whether it be more comprehensible, real instruments or loftier, stronger vocals. These being the elements that I hope would don the album as whole, as I entered this review and began listening to this album. They are alt-rock diamonds in the rough, for both this album and today’s music scene.
Vocally and lyrically, Noel Gallagher is fierce on this record, just with the additive of pushing (too many) boundaries with sound and style. The title of it poses this question: who built the moon? As a listener, I was excited to hopefully get the answer when I got to the tenth track. Clocking in two seconds short of four and a half minutes, “The Man Who Built The Moon” is a genius song; regardless of not giving me a straight answer to the title’s question. In that short amount of time, Gallagher subtly references religion in many senses, intertwining clever lyrics and alluding to various concepts. The chorus includes a line that is sung so lovely and poetically that it would be a shame for me not to include it, “You keep your eyes on the prize if you want it all.” There is a profoundness to this rock ballad that was impressive, but we know that it was no skin off Gallagher’s back, for this song seems to be the epitome of his forté.
There is another pairing of songs from this album that I find…interesting. The eighth and eleventh tracks are interludes; something that I didn’t expect, nor do I completely appreciate. I love both of them, for they breathe an air of sophistication and tranquility, but these soft, instrumental pieces are random and considerably unnecessary in this specific grouping of songs. They feel too out of place on this occasionally psychedelic, slightly techno, generally alternative, but mostly all-over-the-place album.
Who Built The Moon? is Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ third studio album, the first two being released in 2011 and 2015. As someone who holds Oasis’ music to a very high standard, I find Gallagher’s solo work to be good, not great — Noel’s, at least. In my opinion, this third album barely reaches the level of “good” that the first two had reached. Although, it truly does have the potential if you just look for it.