‘Holy Mountain’, Noel Gallagher’s last single, proved somewhat polarising. While we at Hey Nineteen enjoyed its bold embracing of joyful pop music, there were plenty of Gallagher fans who found it more than a little jarring. Still, it’s hard to imagine Gallagher giving a toss about his naysayers. ‘Holy Mountain’ was the sound of Noel having a bloody good time, belting out his catchiest hook in ages alongside a cheery tin whistle sample. Great stuff.
Now, Gallagher is offering up a second taste from his upcoming album Who Built The Moon? released on November 24th. ‘Fort Knox’ shuns all of the pop principles of ‘Holy Mountain’ in favour of something more atmospheric, featuring sparse lyrics and only the slightest glimpse of Gallagher on vocals.
From the very beginning, ‘Fort Knox’ is a fireball. It opens with a semisonic siren that bursts into a chorus of thundering drums that serve as the track’s backbone, driving it forward as its energy escalates. It’s a far more linear track than the bulk of Gallagher’s output which tends to focus on traditional rock/pop melodies built around well-worn, and often fairly predictable, structures. Instead of a singalong chorus, ‘Fort Knox’ offers a relentless surge of blaring sound, a wall of noise that never subsides, only ramping itself up and up as the track pushes forward. It’s primarily an instrumental track, with Gallagher only heard sporadically, his desolate, shadowy vocals flickering through the hefty arrangement as he repeats “I keep on holding on”.
The frustrating thing about ‘Fort Knox’ is that is sounds like a marvellous intro to what should be a marvellous track. Listening to it for the first time, there’s the palpable sense that the juddering rock distortion is about to give way to a verse, followed by a chorus and then, hopefully, another verse. But it doesn’t. ‘Fort Knox’ is essentially one very long introduction. It would make a fine album opener, and you can imagine it booming from the stage as Noel’s walk-on song but, as a standalone track, it leaves you hungry for something a little more.
Still, with its enthralling, daunting sound, ‘Fort Knox’ suggests exciting things for Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. Although it doesn’t carry much weight on its own, it will surely make more sense in the context of a full album, an album that’s shaping up to be one of Noel’s best.