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Review – Noel Gallagher ‘Who Built the Moon?’

Review – Noel Gallagher ‘Who Built the Moon?’
Georgia Dack

Georgia is the website entertainment editor and is also an English literature and Film student; she (unsurprisingly) enjoys & likes to write about cinema, tv shows, books, music, and culture.

By all intents and purposes, it has been a pretty great, albeit divisive, year for Oasis fans. 2017 has seen the release of albums by both Noel and Liam Gallagher, dividing supporters and leading to hilarious social media interactions; although I do not agree with Liam’s idea that Noel should be portrayed by Mr Bean in a biopic, the two albums have provided many fans such as myself with plenty of material, both good and bad, to keep us satisfied.

The key question is then, does Noel’s new album Who Built The Moon match up to his two previous solo efforts, or his brothers first solo outing?

In terms of his song writing style, Who Built The Moon? marks a departure for Noel. He was quoted in an interview as saying that he wanted to write all his material in the studio, a change from his previous albums where he would arrive with prepared songs. He has also working closely with Irish producer and DJ David Holmes, and this influence shows in the sound of the record. The album has a more electronic focus, with electric guitars taking a backseat to more varied instrumentation and some sampling work.

Overall, this new direction has worked, and although there are areas where the album suffers, the production is tight and it does not overstay its welcome too much.

The opening track ‘Fort Knoxis one of the stronger points on the record. Its dance-rock, Fools Gold influenced style of sampling and instrumental repetition primes the listener for the following tracks, and gives an appropriate taste of Noel’s new sonic style. It also has few lyrics, saving it from one of the issues that plague some of the tracks: poor lyricism.

This is strange for Noel, his lyricism has always been on-point. In fact, most of the British population are well-versed in his expertly crafted choruses; be it the rousing climax of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger, or the melancholic ‘Live Forever, his tracks are well-known karaoke classics. However, on this new release, he seems to have dumbed down his lyrics, especially on the first single, ‘Holy Mountain’. Whilst the track is instrumentally sound, with its triumphant brass section, its lyrics are uninventive. This is mainly present in the opening verse, which starts to become grating on repeat listens.

There are also some vocal tracks throughout the album that, whilst not necessarily badly written, are tonally irritating. This is most present on the albums fourth track, ‘It’s A Beautiful World’. Once again, the instrumentation is solid, with effects-laden guitar providing a striking opening. However the track suffers when it reaches the chorus, as the vocals take on a strange tone, the repetition of which makes the track is probably the least appealing on the enitre album.

Even so, there are some stand out moments. Alongside the previously mentioned Fort Knox, the third track Keep on Reaching is a bounding, inspirational track, with a tight rhythm section that is sure to get feet tapping. It also proves that the lyricism is not bad across the board, with “I can play it on an old guitar/you can sing it like a monkey man” being a memorable extract from the chorus, highlighting how Noel addresses his rivalry with his brother.

Halfway through the record, the track ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ has a nice guitar riff running through it, and whilst indulging in its duration slightly, features some nicely introspective lyricism. Length is an issue throughout parts of the album, particularly when the two interludes kick in. Instrumentally, they are perfectly experimental but seem somewhat forced and only manage to pad out the album. This is similar to a few of the tracks on his brother’s solo record.

In comparison to Liam’s debut As You Were, Noel’s new record is definitely more explorative. Whereas Liam focused on the song writing style that rocketed him to fame, Noel has separated himself from it. Even so, both albums are of a fairly equal quality, and whilst they are hampered by some lacklustre lyricism, they both feature stand-out tracks

I would be remiss not to talk about the bonus track ‘Dead In The Water’ that closes out the album. In comparison to the rest of the tracks, it’s sparse, being comprised solely of Noel and his acoustic guitar, but it is definitely a highlight. It is an incredible example of Noel’s ability to write sparse, hauntingly beautiful songs that resonate emotionally; it won’t be long before we see covers of this on The Voice.

Overall, Noel Gallagher’s latest release Who Built The Moon? is a welcome departure that provides some good tracks, but also has moments where it falters. However, if he continues to explore a more electronic, sampled writing style, the future seems bright.

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