Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon? Review
“If you can’t beat them, join them.” A saying Noel Gallagher has clearly followed after recently collaborating with former rival – Damon Albarn, on the recent Gorillaz track ‘We Got the Power’, Back in the days of Britpop was the famous on-going feud of Blur vs. Oasis, but since the breaking up of Oasis, the public have had a different choice to make; Liam or Noel? While Liam is sticking to his roots of rock n roll with oasis-esque hits such as ‘Wall of Glass’, Noel is taking inspiration from Albarn’s experimental ways, which is carried strongly throughout the new album “Who Built the Moon?” This album is a euphoric, unique and sometimes filmic experience. It is structured with an intro, interlude and end credits, allowing the listener to journey through the music.
With inspiration from the likes of Gorillaz, Kanye West and even some elements of ‘French psychedelic pop’, each song on this album is like a breath of fresh air. Crammed full of new sounds and ideas, Noel has really come through with something completely different to anything done before, using an eclectic of instruments from the silky sounds of a cello in ‘Black & White Sunshine’ to a 70s sample of a tin whistle in ‘Holy Mountain’, this album is refreshing and adventurous yet still accessible with catchy beats and stick-in-your-head lyrics.
The album starts with ‘Fort Knox’, an atmospheric piece with full of power and enigma, with features of gospel-like backing vocals and a constant ringing bell, to build you up and introduce you to the hit lead single ‘Holy Mountain’. This vibrant and rich track is the perfect way to kick off the new album, with a tune that you’ll be singing along to all week. On the more ambient side of the album, NGHFB provide us with the exotic and dreamy ‘It’s a Beautiful World’, enriched with sounds of twinkling wind chimes and a chirping of crickets, which take your mind into a utopian world. Following the album’s interlude, we progress on to ‘If Love is the Law’ a song that could make even the most monotone person feel some sort of nostalgic and joyous feeling with the powerful strings of a cello and the warm hums of a harmonica (provided by Johnny Marr), there is just something indescribable about this track that makes you want to sing your heart out – truly stunning.
Closing the album we have another hypnotic groove for the ‘End Credits (Wednesday Part Two)’, this is the comedown of the experience – a strong instrumental piece that allows the listener to reflect on what they just heard, much like the ending of a film. This album is incredibly cinematic, as the listener explores the different emotions and sounds. However, it doesn’t end there. I couldn’t write this review without talking about the bonus track; ‘Dead in the Water.’ this has got to be one of my absolute favourites from the album. Written in under two hours during a sound check, this song is an impromptu masterpiece. Noel performs a simple solo acoustic number that oozes raw, melancholic emotions. Everything in this piece sounds so natural and from the heart, it doesn’t need anything more than Noel and his guitar.
I came into this album feeling sceptical and unsure about the changes Noel had made to his sound, at first listen I wasn’t too convinced. However, after going through a number of listening experiences, my whole viewpoint was turned around. NGHFB have created something special here; something so out of the ordinary yet so exhilarating and blissful. With a combination of new, psychedelic sounds and simple, classic Noel Gallagher familiarities – this album is triumphant in creating a wave of emotion with fans old and new.