Noel Gallagher, the ever-talented (although often mouthy) Oasis co-conspirator, returns to the world in a few weeks with his 2nd solo album Chasing Yesterday from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. We won’t lie, this one has been at the top of our radar since it was announced last year… especially since the “only ok” release from Foo Fighters last Fall.
So, how is it? I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to write a review about something that’s this good.
The 2011 self-titled Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was nearly flawless, and came out of the gate with a strut and a wry smile, saying “…Oasis who?” Sort of like the attitude you’d have when you walk into your local bar and everyone knows you. Here, Chasing Yesterday walks into that same bar… but now you own the joint.
Noels’ new record sails through at an even pace, like a convertible cruising down a desert highway at about 80 miles per hour. It never quite gives you an adrenaline rush, but it has no interest in slowing down either. Tracks like the gritty/driving “The Mexican” demonstrate this, as it jams the crunchy guitar and cowbell until you bob your head so much it falls off.
“The Dying of the Light” is one of the most striking songs I’ve ever heard from Gallagher, Oasis included. It’s a little haunting, a little atmospheric, with melodies falling perfectly into place as they start stacking and congealing.
A new addition to the sound is the placement of a few smooth saxophone solos, which are set to some 1970’s psychadelic jams in “The Right Stuff” and “Riverman”. Other tracks are filled with guitar solos, interesting tones, instantly-recognizeable melodies, and prominent groovy beats.
If you’re looking for some of that early Oasis-y rock sound, you’ll find it in the fist-pumping “Lock all the Doors”, which definitely maybe harkens back to the familiar sound of 1994’s Definitely Maybe.
It seems that Noel Gallagher has reached a point in his songwriting career where he can just crank out tunes at a level that most artists never quite achieve. Obviously, you need to enjoy (or at least tolerate) the Brit-Alternative genre in order to appreciate his work, but this new collection is full of really well-written songs. It might take a few more listens to evaluate properly, but Gallagher may have just outdone himself. In the few years he has been solo, he certainly has outdone much of the Oasis body of work.
I’m giving Chasing Yesterday a rating of 9.5. I’d love to give it a perfect 10, but that would imply that it’s a perfect album… and no, perfect albums do not exist.
But if this isn’t a perfect album (by my own logic above), I’m still having a hell of a time finding the flaws.
Tracks to check out: “In the Heat of the Moment”, “The Dying of the Light”, “The Mexican”
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