Single reviews: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Blue Moon Rising” / Liam Gallagher, “Once”

The initial comments on the new video for Noel Gallagher’s “Blue Moon Rising” were very telling. Uninspired. Sell out. Can’t believe this is the same man who wrote <insert Any Oasis Tune here>. Noel has committed the crime of making music that Doesn’t Sound Like Oasis, and to some middle aged blokes wishing to relive their youth, it’s a betrayal beyond belief. And so enters Liam Gallagher with the remedy: a track as Oasis-esque as possible.

As far as the visuals go, both of these tracks come adorned with my least favourite kind of video: one in which the actual singer doesn’t feature, or, as in these cases, is relegated to a supporting role while others take the limelight. Of the two, Liam’s is more entertaining, with our boy playing butler and chauffeur to a grizzled king, portrayed with entertaining insouciance by Eric Cantona. I suspect the full enjoyment of the video is somewhat lost on me, having as I do an interest in football which falls in negative numbers, but it’s still more enjoyable to watch than Noel’s vid, in which he lurks in some murky club while a couple dance tediously around each other.

But in terms of the actual songs, Noel has something much more interesing to offer here. “Blue Moon Rising” a bit dark, a bit disco, with a sinister build up of staccato synth stabs, and a snaking melody rising into a sneakily optimistic chorus: “you make me feel electric / beauty in truth is hard to find“. Then there’s a glorious post-chorus interlude which has nicked the spooky bleeps from the opening of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”, before it all settles down into a sinister simmer again.

Whereas all you need to know about “Once” is that it’s a mid-tempo, sadly reflective Liam Gallagher song, and you already know what it sounds like. You’ve known since 1994. And that doesn’t make it a bad thing – there’s definitely a place in this world for sadly reflective mid-tempo songs sung by Liam Gallagher – but there’s something that feels a little unhealthy about wallowing in a sound that’s remained so utterly unchanged for more than 25 years. Like languishing in your duvet and eating nothing but chips for weeks on end. (Hey, we’ve all been there.)

Overall, for me Noel is the easy winner here, but it’s for all the reasons Liam is singing about: the impossibility of recapturing youthful glory days. Liam may muse about how “you felt so inspired to do it again / but it turns out you only get to do it once“, but he’s still been stretching that “once” out for more than a quarter of a century. Noel, meanwhile, has moved on to more interesting avenues of pop, revelling in the now, not the then. It may be a daily source of pain for many of us that it’s not 1994 anymore, but the important thing is, we were there, and it was brilliant. Making 2020 just as brilliant is a far better cure than wallowing in the past. Because it turns out, we’ll only get to do 2020 once as well.

Noel:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Liam:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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