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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Album: Who Built The Moon
Label: Sour Mash
Tracks: 11
Website: http://www.noelgallagher.com

Embracing middle age with self-belief intact and every ounce of arrogance as perky as ever, on this evidence the fifty-something Noel Gallagher is going to be having a ball. Just as his great mate Paul Weller hit a creative rebirth when the Five-O came a-knocking so it seems NG has a few artistic fireworks up his sleeve.

For starters, his third solo album opens with a four-on-the-floor mainly instrumental psychedelic big beat anthem called Fort Knox. If you thought Gallagher had gone dance with Falling Down from the last Oasis album or AKA… What a Life! off his solo debut then this is going to be a proper shock - distinct, ambitious and downright fun, dad rock this is not.

As if to twist expectations even further he follows it with Holy Mountain, a whopping great glam rock stomp with the aforementioned Modfather on organ that's based around The Ice Cream's bubblegum classic Chewing Gum Kid but also referencing Diamond Dogs, Plastic Bertrand, Ricky Martin(!!) and any number of Mott/Roxy/Slade moves. It all wears a bit thin by the end and starts to sound like Kasabian but there's no denying the ambition.

Those looking for more familiar ground on which to tread will find plenty to please in the blissed out grooves and French vocal (yes, really!) of It's A Beautiful World, the taut rock of She Taught Me How To Fly and the stodgier blues of Be Careful What You Wish For.

And there are moments - the two instrumentals, Interlude and End Credits - when you have to consider whether or not all this mucking about with preconceptions is born of a lack of coherent song ideas, but then you hear Black & White Sunshine and The Man Who Built the Moon and it's obvious Gallagher's terrace-friendly instinct for a killer chorus is as infallible as ever.

Infact, for those who can't get by without an acoustic singalong, there's even a bonus track - a vintage Gallagher 'slow one' - called Dead in the Water recorded live.

Who Built the Moon? is all about the next thing and with David Holmes at the controls Gallagher has given himself a thumping great kick up the creative jacksee - how else should we explain the tape sculpture and assemblage that has clearly gone into the cinematic If Love Is the Law? The guitar and gob iron are courtesy of Johnny Marr, the ideas might bear the stamp of Gallagher, but the sound is pure late-1990s Holmes of Let's Get Killed vintage.

Time will tell, but this is already sounding like some of Gallagher's strongest solo work. Unlike his kid brother's return to the fray it's not stuck in the past, but neither is it pretending that past didn't happen. Instead, it's far more concerned with what happens next… the mark of a proper modernist.

Nick Churchill
www.nickchurchill.org.uk