The Joup Friday Album: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon?


Considering my last review was a massive anti-Morrissey rant and that he recently outed himself as a victim-blaming, sexual assault apologist on top of all the other shitty things we already knew about him, I was tempted to review his new album in that context. But that would mean I’d have to listen to it. Instead I chose to review an album by someone else I think is an asshole – Noel Gallagher.

On paper, Oasis was a band I should have loved. Beatles -influenced British guitar rock is right in my wheelhouse. But tales of the Gallagher brothers’ douchey antics made it impossible for me to muster much enthusiasm for their tunes. Of the pair, Noel has always struck me as the more talented and slightly less obnoxious Gallagher brother, which is why I chose his new album, Who Built the Moon?,  to review over brother Liam’s recent release. And I’m glad I did.

I haven’t given much attention to music coming from either Gallagher brother since about 2000 or so. I’d hear a new Oasis song on the radio, or Beady Eye, or Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, listen for a minute, and then carry on with my life, neither excited about nor dreading the possibility of hearing it again. After a few plays through of Who Built the Moon? I feel like I might need to go back and give a better listen to some of the interceding works and see if I wasn’t selling them short.

Who Built the Moon? opens with “Fort Knox,” something of a Madchester throwback with dancey drums, a vaguely Eastern sound, lyrics limited strictly to “You gotta get yourself together,” and an alarm bell clattering in the background that will make you mute the album to make sure something isn’t on fire. It would not be out of place on a Kula Shaker album.

The album’s first single, “Holy Mountain” is a fun, glammy stomp. Neither Gallagher brother has been shy about wearing their influences on their sleeves, and this song pays strong homage to Diamond Dogs era Bowie, but adding a bit of originality with a prominent tin whistle – not exactly the first instrument you’d expect to hear in a glam rock song. But it works. This is a song I’ll be excited about hearing again.

“Keep On Reaching” drones along without much to recommend it, punched up only slightly by some very 80s fake-sounding horns. But my ears perk back up for “It’s a Beautiful World” with the kind of skippity dippity drumbeat that I’m a sucker for, and a French spoken word bridge that somehow manages to not sound pretentious. “She Taught Me How to Fly” keeps the energy up and has an appealing Peter Hookish bass-masquerading-as-lead-guitar sound (maybe it’s actually a guitar, but that’s what it sounds like to me). And then it’s back to droning with “Be Careful What You Wish For,” this time the drone done up in a slightly bluesy style. They’re not bad songs – they’re fine for background listening and do their job as album filler, but they do not set the world on fire.

“Black & White Sunshine” brings back the crisp, slightly jangly guitar pop that pleases me greatly. And there’s some more French – is Noel a secret Francophile? “Interlude (Wednesday Part 1)” is a twiddly little instrumental jazz odyssey that I will probably skip over on future listenings. And it’s a song so nice they played it twice? An infinitely forgettable reprise titled “Interlude (Wednesday Part 2)”),  is the actually final track, but ignoring that (and it’s easy to ignore), Who Built the Moon?  closes out answering its titular question in grand dramatic fashion. “The Man Who Built the Moon” sounds like something that should run behind the closing credits of a suspense thriller.

This album was good enough to overcome my preconceived notions about Noel Gallagher. I think part of the reason I let boorish behavior get in the way of the tunes back in my teens and early twenties was that imagining dating the skinny British guys I listened to was part of the whole fandom package. It’s hard to get into a guy who you know would act a fool and embarrass you horribly if you went out to dinner. Now that I’m a happily married woman in my 40s and decidedly post-crush, I don’t much care what the artists I listen do in their spare time or even what they have to say in interviews. As long as the tunes are good and they aren’t completely abhorrent as a human being (cough cough Morrissey), that’s all that really matters.

Tagging Katie.

The full album playlist is being difficult about embedding – here’s a link:

One Response to The Joup Friday Album: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon?
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    I’ll fix that embed. Hot dam, this is one fantastic article Amy!!!

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