Album reviews: Noel Gallagher's third album stretches boundaries

Noel Gallagher

"Who Built the Moon?"

Sour Mash Records

Release date: Nov. 24

Genre: Alternative/Indie, Rock

Review: Gallagher's third album with the High Flying Birds stretches some boundaries, digs a few new grooves, darkens the atmospheres and adds an extra degree of psychedelia to the rhythms. Produced by David Holmes, perhaps best known for his soundtracks like "Out of Sight" and George Clooney's "Ocean's" films, "Who Built the Moon?" is an unforced progression that sounds fab.

Opener "Fort Knox" has few lyrics but heaps of chanting, plenty of percussion, irritating alarm clocks, and energy to spare. It's a fearless start to the album but probably better experienced live. "Holy Mountain" keeps up the vitality with a touch of Beach Boys backing vocals and some Bowie/T. Rex glam traits built on a Phil Spectorish wall of sound. There a couple of spooky instrumentals and guest spots by Paul Weller and Johnny Marr, but "Who Built the Moon?" is definitely Noel Gallagher's show, no maybe about it.

Engelbert Humperdinck

"The Man I Want to Be"

OK! Good Records

Release date: Nov. 24

Genre: Pop

Review: There's hardly a false note on Engelbert Humperdinck's "The Man I Want to Be." No rapping, no clumsy evidence of Auto-Tune, no heavy-handed attempts to sound hip and no screaming guitar solos. Instead, 50 years after his first hits and closing in on his 82nd birthday, Humperdinck has created a heartfelt album anchored in archetypal orchestrations and honest, unspoiled performances of well-chosen songs. Created as a message of love to his wife Patricia, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, her muse has brought the best out of her husband of over 50 years.

There are versions of contemporary hits like the Bruno Mars smash "Just the Way You Are" and Ed Sheeran's "Photograph," adapted to match Humperdinck's natural style. "Just Like the First Time" seems to address his wife's struggle head-on — "You don't know me now/But in some way, somehow/Maybe there's a moment you are mine."

Albums he made a decade ago or more were already said to be possibly his last but "The Man I Want to Be" is vintage Humperdinck and a rewarding listen.


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