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‘Who Built the Moon?’ review: Noel Gallagher’s lyrics sparkle

"Who Built The Moon?" by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds is on Sour Mash Records. Credit: SOUR MASH


“Who Built the Moon?”

BOTTOM LINE Ex-Oasis guitarist achieves one great song plus high-grade rock poetry.

Noel Gallagher is what you might call a pop star emeritus. He spends his post-Oasis years riding scooters with Bono, declaring his cat Boots more rock and roll than Radiohead and enduring his ex-bandmate brother Liam calling his latest album “psychedelic music by a beige drip.” But the former guitarist for the ’90s MTV heroes remains a hell of a lyricist, even as his solo band’s second album, “Who Built the Moon?” (Sour Mash Records), is all over the place, beginning with pulsing dance music a la Big Audio Dynamite and Gorillaz and evening out to midtempo rock.

By far the album’s best song is “Holy Mountain,” a Beach Boys-at-the-Electric Daisy Carnival jam resplendent with woo-woos, whistles, hand claps, organ by the Jam’s Paul Weller and Gallagher exulting: “She fell! She fell! Right under my spell. She danced! She danced! Into my hands.” The rest of the album’s charms are more subtle: Gallagher doles out a pretty little electric-guitar riff in “Black & White Sunshine”; channels the Beatles’ “Come Together” in the hypnotic, spacey “Be Careful What You Wish For”; and effectively slips his thin but endearing voice beneath big, Phil Spector-style orchestral production on “The Man Who Built the Moon” and “If Love Is the Law.”

There are dead spots, particularly the two meandering guitar instrumentals, and one gets the sense family man Gallagher had to stretch to achieve 10 tracks. But the lyrics glue everything together, slipping out in bits of rhyming wisdom: “Tidy your books / put ’em under your bed / gather your thoughts / but keep ’em in your head” and “if you’re waiting for the Rapture/the d’ will never come.” The album isn’t quite a cosmic rainbow, but it’s far more than beige.

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