When Noel Gallagher junked his work with the psychedelic, experimental Amorphous Androgynous collective a few years back, and released the more commercial Chasing Yesterday, it felt like the guitarist and songwriter might have been permanently shying away from more adventurous work.
Who Built The Moon?, then, is a welcome development – a groove-led smorgasbord as lysergic as its stoned name suggests, incorporating samples, loops and all manner of instruments courtesy of visionary Irish producer David Holmes. First single Holy Mountain is more exciting than anything Gallagher has produced in years, a speedy, fuzzy glam gallop that evokes T Rex, Wizzard and Tame Impala.
The other peaks on How Built The Moon? are equally thrilling – opener Fort Knox recalls the sirens and beats of Noel’s collaborations with The Chemical Brothers, adding in a chorus of female vocals and Eastern-tinged percussion, and Keep On Reaching is a soulful mix of horns, backing vocals and pounding drums that recalls Primal Scream. Black & White Sunshine, meanwhile, is a Beatles-esque rocker with North African strings and a compelling riff, while The Man Who Built The Moon is a cinematic slow-burner that comes on like Richard Hawley writing a James Bond theme.
It’s not all impressive reinvention, of course: the feisty She Taught Me How To Fly takes its inspiration from New Order, but the actual song is nothing special; elsewhere, Be Careful What You Wish For suggests the dregs of ’90s trip-hop, a low-slung groove in search of a song or hook.
These are small problems, however. Ultimately, Noel Gallagher should be congratulated for finally leaving his comfort zone and growing as an artist and songwriter. The highlights of Who Built The Moon? suggest that Gallagher and Holmes are onto something special.