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

by Sophie Pay

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds "Who Built the Moon?" (Photo by Sophie Pay)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds "Who Built the Moon?" (Photo by Sophie Pay)

Back with his third solo album, “Who Built the Moon?” Noel Gallagher has gone out of his comfort zone. The album’s producer, David Holmes did not allow any pre-written songs into the studio, so Gallagher was going in blind.

The sibling rivalry between Noel and his brother, Liam Gallagher, both formerly of the band Oasis continues. The tension built up between the brothers during their years in Oasis, which finally exploded in 2009 backstage at their Paris show, where the band famously split. This marked the point where the brothers would not speak to each other, even to this day. Although, Liam occasionally indirectly comments on his brother, most famously calling him a potato and recently making fun of Noel’s scissor player in the band.

Their albums were released just weeks apart, dragging along Oasis fans, as many took sides and took the criticism to social media. Some chose to stay loyal to one of the Gallaghers while others kept a neutral stance in the situation. More criticism was directed towards Noel than Liam, since his album was not a traditional Oasis style album. Noel was able to produce a psychedelic rock/pop album which hit all the right marks.

Starting with the album’s first track “Fort Knox,” the constant sirens and instrumental sounds foreshadow what the listener is to expect from the rest of the album. The album’s other songs including, “Holy Mountain,” “Keep on Reaching,” “It’s a Beautiful World,” and “She Taught Me How To Fly” establish a feeling of urgency to do something in the world, fast paced drums. Compared to his last two albums, the vocals on this one express joy and happiness, along with the support of powerful backup vocals. The surge of this fast pace album gives Noel the ability to do something different, since his time in Oasis had only allowed him to create rock ballads, and his last two solo albums were slower paced. This album replaced the Amorphous Androgynous collaboration album that was scrapped out and never released back in 2012, during the same time his debut album was released.

Be Careful What You Wish For” reminds me of “Waiting For the Rapture” off of the last Oasis album ‘Dig out Your Soul’, with a reference in the track’s lyrics of “And if you're waiting for the rapture the day will never come.”

Towards the middle of the album there is an instrumental interlude that marks where the tempo starts to slow down. This occurs again at the end credits, where an additional instrumental interlude pulls back to reveal a stripped down bonus track, “Dead In The Water” featuring just Gallagher and his guitar. This extra, unplugged ballad on the album is one of Gallagher’s most notably emotional tracks, with a stripped down setting reminiscent of his work on Oasis b-sides. Gallagher brings yet another song that is able to pull your emotions out into display for all to see, allowing a person to reminisce on the good times.

Overall, the album is very interesting, as Noel seems to focus more on the instruments than the lyrics this time. I did have mixed feelings when I heard the first single, "Holy Mountain" since it was not the typical Oasis song. For all those confused Oasis fans who are used to Noel’s older style of writing, producing rock ballads, I would recommend giving this one a chance. ‘Who Built the Moon’ is Gallagher's most outgoing and fast paced solo album, showing that Noel has moved on from the past to do his own thing.

7/10 stars