Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ first two albums contained some colorful moments, but their third album, Who Built the Moon?, was promoted as being his full return to the world of psychedelia. Unfortunately, this is the fifty year old Gallagher’s version of psychedelia – interesting at its best, but never truly on the mark. At its core, this is passively interesting psychedelic based music, rife with good intentions, but unfortunately feels more forced than it should be. Opener “Fort Knox,” and “The Man Who Built the Moon” get ruined by what can only be described as the irritating sound of an alarm clock going off for two straight minutes. First single “Holy Mountain” straight rips off the chorus of “She Bangs,” while the main portion of this album simply fails to get off the ground, even when using cliched tricks like throwing in a woman speaking French over an intercom, or including the sound of scissors on a track. Things just sound better and less forced when Noel at least partially reverts back to his comfort zone, like on the catchy but repetitive, “She Taught Me How To Fly,” or the built-up string laden jangle pop of “If Love is the Law.” Shockingly, it’s the two instrumental “Wednesday” interludes end up being the most satiating of all the tracks on here, both being welcome breaks from the bells and whistles of the rest of the album (they are both used extensively here).
Frankly, Noel Gallagher has done this same sort of music better in the past, especially on Oasis’ swan-song, Dig Out Your Soul, and even on his first effort with the High Flying Birds. For something that was dubbed “cosmic pop,” it is disappointing to say that this album won’t be on the soundtrack of any pupil widening spiritual adventures. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Gallagher sounds like he’s straight up shouting over his own soundscapes in order to be heard on many of the tracks, as the bulk of Who Built the Moon? feels messy, unnecessarily complex, overthought instrumentally, and thrown together for the sake of being mildly psychedelic, without ever truly leading anywhere.