On the second album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the former Oasis lead writer settles into his role as one of the few remaining elder statesmen of rock and roll. In an age where Kanye West tells Sir Paul how to be “hip” again, the 47-year-old Noel isn’t keen to reinvent the wheel on Chasing Yesterday. But he is moving further to claim the “Oasis sound” from his brother Liam’s band, Beady Eye.
The long start of moody, midtempo “Riverman” pulls in a lot of influences together. You’ll hear the melancholy of Nick Drake in lyrics, instrumentation that combines Pink Floyd and The Stone Roses. And you know that the Beatles influence still saturates everything he does. Other songs here tread similar ground like “The Dying of the Light” and “The Right Stuff.” Using a fairly innocuous band, save for two tracks here, nothing pulls our attention from Noel and his doom and gloom. On “The Right Stuff” guest vocalist Joy Rose sings alongside to bring the chorus up front.
Several really good songs do show up – “The Girl with X-Ray Eyes” could be an outtake straight from the Oasis compilation The Masterplan, and “Lock All the Doors” boasts a heavy driving melody that starts out a lot like David Essex’s “Rock On” prior to the chorus. Oasis fans are sure to love these songs.
My favorite here is the neo-glam of “The Mexican” that just teases you enough to think an Oasis reunion could be possible. But that idea gets shot down with Noel’s answer to Oasis fans, “You Know We Can’t Go Back.” So as much as he’s chasing his past, he’s not forcing things. Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr contributes to “Ballad of the Mighty I,” another solid tune that’s inviting and familiar. It’s the one time the guitar riffs stand out compared to the other songs.
Overall this is a highly recommended album, more so if you are an Oasis fan.
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