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WE REVIEW THE NEW SINGLE FROM NOEL GALLAGHER – PRETTY BOY

During Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ performance at 2022’s Glastonbury Festival, the enigmatic frontman adopted an oddly self-deprecating tone. By dividing their show into two portions – the former comprising of High Flying Birds’ songs and the latter being almost exclusively comprised of Oasis songs – the shrewd frontman spent much of the gig’s first thirty minutes making reference to his suspicion that few audience members were concerned with songs outside the Oasis cannon. And of course, songs like ‘Half the World Away’ and ‘Wonderwall’ were received more raucously than any newer output.

But Noel was doing himself a disservice. No High Flying Birds’ album has failed to top the UK Official Albums Chart and the band’s most recent – Who Build the Moon? – a foray into psychedelic rock, featuring some of Noel’s best songwriting since his Oasis years, even received a nomination for the 2018 Mercury Prize.

New single ‘Pretty Boy’ is the continuation of the sonic shift catalysed by Who Built the Moon? The interstellar lyrical world-building remains, with opening lyrics – ‘Beneath the starry sky/Of a distant moon/At the magic moment/That’s gonna come too soon’ – sounding like Noel’s attempt to pitch a new series of fantasy novels. His vocals are appropriately distant throughout, yet a veneer of clarity rings with every syllable. Johnny Marr guests – his guitar jangling celestially throughout.

Perhaps less like Who Built the Moon? is Noel’s songwriting, with a humdrum chorus lacking the appeal of songs like ‘Holy Mountain’ or ‘She Taught Me How to Fly’. More appealing is the increasingly dark chord progressions that contort the song’s hook into something closer to Bauhaus or The Cure. Yet still, there lies a familiarity within ‘Pretty Boy’ – as the group takes flight once more.