And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week Releases

Beef Of The Week #384: Noel Gallagher v …Noel Gallagher?

By | Published on Friday 8 December 2017

Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher has a new album out. I’m not sure if you were aware. If only he’d agree to give a few more interviews, he might manage to get the word out a bit better.

I’m joking, of course. Fooled you, huh? I’m very funny. The promotional campaign for the new Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds album feels like it’s been dragging on for about seven years now. Given that he’s known as a man not afraid to fire off a few harsh words on demand, just the kind of thing both media and social media like, the PR strategy for the record has been to send him out to do as many interviews as humanly possible.

The result of this, coupled with the fact that Liam Gallagher is also out doing much the same for his new solo album, saw the whole thing descend into pantomime. Such has been the one-upmanship from interview to interview, that Noel ended up describing his brother as being mentally ill, while some of his promo ramblings even resulted in Noel being declared a “legend” by noted arbiter of taste Nigel Farage.

It can be hard to remember that the purpose of all this is to promote some new music. Although whenever Noel has actually got round to stopping talking, more on-message media do remember to play some of that new music. At which point I’ve always wished he’d bloody well start talking again. That new music, in my opinion, really isn’t very good. At all.

Does my opinion count for anything, though? Well, no one asked me for it, so perhaps not. But there are still plenty of people out there who do provide their opinions on such things, upon request, for money (or whatever it is they give you for writing music reviews these days). And lots of those people seemed to think the new record was alright. Pleasurable, even.

In fact, the reviews for ‘Who Built The Moon?’ have been overwhelmingly positive. The album’s producer, David Holmes, is often given as much of the credit as Noel himself. But praise is praise. And there’s been plenty of it for the two men to share out between them.

“It’s hardly Oneohtrix Point Never”, said the NME – four stars! “The album regularly recalls some of the duller post-Britpop bands”, said the Guardian – four stars! “A dazzling mess”, said Rolling Stone – three and a half stars! “Many listeners will … be disappointed”, said Clash – four stars!

Of course, not everything said about the album could be this glowingly positive. Still, outright negative reviews are pretty hard to find. Hard, but not impossible. Ian Maleney’s one star critique in The Irish Times is a thing to behold.

Declaring the album irrefutable proof that rock music is now entirely dead, Maleney describes the new LP as “a particularly guileless, tub-thumping, broad-strokes version of this pungent, hollowed-out genre”.

Gallagher’s “last memorable contribution to his art appeared more than two decades ago”, he notes, adding that “there have been children born, raised, educated, employed and ruined in the years since Noel Gallagher last released a collection of music that meant anything to people”.

“There are musical gestures here that would be a cause of embarrassment if you heard them played by a gang of black-clad teenagers at a Saturday afternoon battle-of-the-bands in a rural parish hall”, he goes on. “Remove some of the varnish and this record could have been made any time in the last 70 years. It’s the stale, musty sound of a glorified pub band going through the motions. Rock is dead; this is a pantomime”.

So, now it’s not just Noel’s interview technique that has descended into pantomime. If his recordings have too, then the next logical phase of this transformation would be for him to arrive on stage at his live shows dressed as Widow Twankey. We could then all have a protracted round of shouting “he’s behind you!”, as someone dressed as Liam scuttles about at the back of the stage. Actually, make a note of that, this would be a great way to announce an actual Oasis reunion.

None of that is actually happening though. So, instead, we’ll just have to make do with the new TV advert promoting ‘Who Built The Moon?’

Adopting a well-worn form, the advert plays a bit of the record’s music while overlaying quotes from reviews to further entice the listener. Much like I did above, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, going for a slightly different angle on some of the extracts picked. “Perhaps his best ever”, it recalls The Sun proclaiming. And from the NME’s review: “Noel’s best album since ‘…Morning Glory'”.

Then an actual funny thing happens. The third quote flashes up to drive this thing home, and it’s the headline from that Irish Times piece. “A dried up oasis of dross”, it sighs.

This juxtaposition has not gone unnoticed, obviously. As the advert airs on TV, people have been tweeting photographs of their screens asking what the hell is going on. Inevitably the media has also picked up on this, often following the theory being suggested in that long line of incredulous tweets, ie that this is some sort of accident. Or, at least, media reports start down that line in order to build an unnecessary level of mystery into the story. Could the inclusion of this review be an error? Oh no, it isn’t.

It all feeds perfectly into the cartoonish narrative built around this album release. Presumably Noel himself had some hand in it. He’s certainly aware of the one star review.

“That’s me told then”, he wrote on Instagram after the Irish Times piece was published last month. “See what they did there with the headline”, he added, which, remember, was “A dried up oasis of dross”.

If you’re going to turn your career into a pantomime, you’re going to need some puns. And seemingly for all involved, this one was just too good to pass up.