Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Craft Cosmic Pop on ‘Who Built the Moon?’
As the two brothers from Oasis, one of the most respected British rock bands of all-time, continue their respective solo careers after the band’s infamous break-up, older brother Noel Gallagher has just put forth his third studio project as the head of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. This time around he’s opted for a more laid back approach, allowing spontaneity to shape his writing process. “Who Built the Moon?” may be his most adventurous solo project to-date.
In an interview with NME last spring, Gallagher revealed that he’s decided to write only in the studio. “To amuse myself,” he said, “I am writing in the studio for the first time. As a rule I’ve not allowed myself to go in with any completed songs, so I am writing in there, it’s happening all around me during the day.” This impulsive way of making an album has allowed the singer to play with some very exploratory sounds. Throughout the album, there’s everything from The Doors-esque instrumentals of bells and synths on “Interlude (Wednesday Part 1)” and “End Credits (Wednesday Part 2),” to the running indie rhythm of “She Taught Me How to Fly” and the dark, bluesy vibes on “The Man Who Built the Moon.” Much of this notion of experimentation might be traced back to Gallagher’s intention of branching out from the traditional Oasis sound that he was once so synonymous with. Closing out the album, there’s quite a treat to be found as well. “Dead in the Water” was recorded live during a radio recording session in Dublin. While the band and technicians were moving mics and instruments about, Gallagher began playing the song he had written just days prior. He had no idea they were recording. It wasn’t until years later when his team asked him about bonus tracks to add to this very album that “Dead in the Water” came up. Noel’s mouth dropped as he heard the recording for the first time. Suffice it to say, he was excited about putting it on the album.
Sonically, most of the record can be attributed to Gallagher and his producer Dave Holmes. Some gems, however, come from fellow UK musicians of equal caliber. The Smiths’ guitarist/songwriter alongside Morrissey, Johnny Marr, takes harmonica duties on “If Love is the Law,” a very joyous, chipper tune on the subject of heartbreak, oddly enough. The rambunctious, 60’s era pop-rock single “Holy Mountain” enlists the iconic Paul Weller on organ. The sort of grimy, street-level sounds of the psychedelic era can be found all over this tune; much like the song Gallagher wrote to his children, the cautionary tale of “Be Careful What You Wish For.”
One can only hope Noel continues this path of experimentation seen on “Who Built the Moon?” He clearly has the level-headedness, not to mention ambition, to pull it off. He’s not one for sitting back and allowing the riches to roll in following a half-hearted album of expected sounds. Instead, he’s opted to challenge both himself and his devoted fans.
“Who Built the Moon?” is available Nov. 24 on Apple Music.