It was time for a change of direction and
Gallagher successfully delivers it on Who
Built the Moon?,
his third ‘solo’ studio
album, released on 24 November 2017.
Gallagher himself noted the need for a new direction in a recent interview “I don’t know how far I can take [my usual approach] anymore. You can do songs [that are similar in] essence, you know what I mean? I’m at a stage now where I don’t even want to fucking do that, and I’m my biggest fan.”
The result is his most refreshing, adventurous and joyful record in years.
For Who Built the Moon? Gallagher has decided to team up with producer David Holmes, who has clearly pushed him out of his comfort zone. In fact he did this quite literally, because Gallagher is used to writing at home, but for this album Holmes strongly discouraged it. “At first I thought I would just pretend to come up with stuff in the studio that I’d already written,” says Gallagher. “He won’t know. How would he fucking know? Of course he knew, because it all sounded like me. He was like, “Don’t fucking bullshit me.”
Their joint work in a ‘different space’ has produced an album full of surprises: there are, for example, lyrics in French, James Bond-like themes, eastern grooves, phased guitars, samples, synthesisers, psychedelic and orchestral touches.
“People are going to be surprised. I think people love Noel and they’re desperate for him to make a really big, bold, up-tempo beast of a record – a lot of Noel’s music is quite mid-tempo,” said Holmes. “This one is fun.”
One track that has particularly gained critical plaudits is Holy Mountain. This track began life as a keyboard riff before the chords were added, but Holmes felt more could be done with the chorus and reportedly insisted that Gallagher keep re-writing it. After eight re-writes, Gallagher’s reaction might be imagined – in fact he has said that he wanted to throttle his producer. But now Noel Gallagher says “you know what… he was right!”
Holy Mountain, pre-released as a single, is a glam-rock romp with Beach Boys touches, and some Paul Weller keyboards thrown in for good measure. It is an exuberant ode to love, which has Gallagher singing “She fell! She fell! Right under my spell. She danced! She danced! Into my hands.”
It's a Beautiful World was the following single but, for this critic’s money, Gallagher’s guitar riffs and the big sound of Black and White Sunshine is by far the better song. Be Careful What You Wish For is another standout number on the album, with its driving, funky riff that recalls the Beatles’ Come Together.
The two weak guitar instrumental ‘interludes’ aside, Gallagher’s relies less on his 1960s Gibson ES-355 than previously, but draws on the genius of his long-time friend Johnny Marr on the track If Love Is the Law to good effect.
As for the lyrics, Gallagher says “I guess if you’re a guy playing guitar these days, you’re obliged to write about the news. But it’s almost revolutionary not to, and to focus on the joy and uplifting nature of rock and roll instead of like, “Wow, Trump,” you know, “Brexit.” [That approach] fucking rolls me up the wrong way.”
A huge UK and Ireland tour now back’s up the album’s release and judging by the quality and sheer fun of these new songs, we expect the tickets to be snapped up.