There was a twist recently in the Battle of the Gobs between Liam and Noel Gallagher as Liam’s solo record vaulted straight to number one in the UK, writes Ed Power.
The biggest surprise was that the chart-topping success was entirely deserved, with the younger Gallagher thrillingly conjuring the spirit of Oasis’s glory days (albeit with the help of a behind the scene team of songwriters including Adele’s best mate Greg Kurstin).
So much, then, for the idea that Liam minus Noel was a puzzle to which there was no correct solution. Moreover, with Liam having pushed past the failure of Beady Eye, the round spherical object was very much back in Noel’s court. He was allegedly the genius behind Oasis — was he really going to be eclipsed by his junior sibling?
A straight forward answer isn’t really forthcoming on Who Built The Moon? — a weird, wobbling experiment that features outside-the-box production from Belfast DJ David Holmes. The problem is that, having spent the latter half of Oasis trying to recapture that group’s early
majesty, now Noel wants to run as far as possible from his signature sound.
But this tactic doesn’t always pay off and raises the issue of whether the world — or at least Oasis fans — really need an experimental Noel Gallagher. Probably not, you might conclude having suffered the Slade stomp of single ‘Holy Mountain’. Stabs at anthemic grandiosity don’t quite work either. ‘It’s A Beautiful World’ wants very badly to be a bawdier version of Elbow but instead sounds like Coldplay on an off day.
That Gallagher has finally weaned himself off obvious Oasis pastiche is to be commended. But then there is the conundrum of whether he should stick to what he is good at. Who Built The Moon? tries very hard to reconstruct his songwriting from the ground up — but too often Noel sounds as if he is lost in high orbit with not the foggiest as to how he is going to get back home.
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