Who Built The Moon? (Caroline)
That any Noel Gallagher album arrives lugging a small cruise ship’s worth of “baggage” is just the way it is.
And no, I don’t mean measuring it against Oasis, a band for whom I feel at best indifference, and whose legacy I grumpily argue is generational rather than musical. Nor comparisons with what recordings his lesser talented/even bigger ego-d brother Liam has issued to a world far less interested in him than the music press is.
Or for that matter whatever outrage has been caused by the Mancunian wit who can say some very funny shit, as well as some very dumb shit, and is happy to have either, or both, define him because frankly he doesn’t give a shit.
The baggage Gallagher snr carries is that of being a songwriter whose greatest moments are two decades ago and even then, were inextricably entwined (to put it politely) with his heroes; who is a perfectly capable but no more than that singer who suffers from lack of individuality only partly saved by not being his brother’s whine; and whose strength (to put it politely) has never been lyrics.
That Who Built The Moon? does manage to step over, in the main, this baggage is its greatest achievement.
There’s both energy and nous in these songs, which may begin with a not wholly successful lumbering psych track (Fort Knox) but find their way through punchy, brassy, white boy soul (the light-on but swinging Keep On Reaching), a surprisingly effective pair of instrumentals (the naff titled Interlude Wednesday Part 1 and End Credits Wednesday Part 2) and a bonus track (Dead In The Water) which takes a scrubbing brush to a standard Gallagher ballad and does its emotions on the natural rather than on the run.
Which is not to say Gallagher has stopped aping his idols, but rather that they don’t always have to be clodhopping ones. For example, there’s no Status Quo and only one T-Rex facsimile (Holy Mountain) this time and even that sounds like it emerged from the glam factory of Chinn/Chapman with a bit of a grin.
And when he channels straight out Oasis in Black White Sunshine, he’s learnt, like a veteran cricketer, to add some angles and light touches instead of pushing hard at the ball. Though it’s fair to note that this is also a song where his limited singing range feels the strain, and the extreme-Oasis title track is a straight out clumping bit of stodge.
There is a wonderful irony, or maybe that should be historical synchronicity, that the creeping blues, Be Careful What You Wish For, sounds unashamedly like John Lennon’s Come Together. Not because Gallagher’s nicked something from the Beatles – hardly news – but that he’s nicked from a song that Lennon was accused of nicking from Chuck Berry.
History never repeats? Well, as was probably argued in 1969, it’s a good song regardless.
To that end, She Taught Me How To Fly may sound like an offshoot of a writing session with Chemical Brothers and If Love Is The Law has more than a touch of Bruce Springsteen’s discarded songs between Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town, but they still hold up their end of the bargain here.
So, baggage? Gallagher’s travelling a bit lighter on this trip. He’s got room to move.