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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday Review

Four years on from a promising solo debut, Oasis man with a seemingly decent plan, Noel Gallagher, continued to chart new ground. New in the sense of being alone, other than his hyphen lacking fowl. Back in action with those High Flying birds, not with a bang, but with an unsurprising whimper. Is there a line to be drawn between The Beatles’ obvious influence on Gallagher and the opening lines of the first track Riverman being lifted straight from Something? Probably not worth reading into that, although Gallagher does, as his title suggests, appear to be Chasing Yesterday. Who knows, Gallagher may see himself as mysterious as the late George Harrison. Empty love notes on Riverman are a troublesome hurdle to mount but there they are, as acceptable in tone as expected.  

Let those saxophones rip Gallagher man, if it gives a break from the tired vocals then it is a treat for the ears. Still, as overly long as Riverman is, it is hard to put up much of a fight when this is the last review of a long day. You win this time, a solid love song. Much of Chasing Yesterday is filled with those empty ballads and brass-heavy moves. In the Heat of the Moment is unforgivably dull. Gallagher notes the sound of the drums, the chants which precede and follow as hollow as the soul of Chasing Yesterday. Considering the title, Gallagher does little to chase the sounds of his past. It is perhaps the best part of Chasing Yesterday. He demonstrates growth, although not as much as the self-titled group debut. Gallagher needs to pick a lane. 

The Girl With X-Ray Eyes shows a remarkable turn of form, the clear winner out of these ten tracks. Much of that comes from the instruments which surround Gallagher, not the man himself. Heavy electrics and an almost wall of sound, tambourine featuring style to it. Empty guitar ramblings on Lock All The Doors add a well-needed excitement to proceedings, and there Gallagher comes through with a simple rhyming structure and continued heavy guitar work. Still, his ego conflates any chance of sympathetic or even sincere tracks. Ballad of the Mighty I sees so-called legend Johnny Marr join on guitar for a wheel around the fountain of Gallagher’s self-interested desire to grow and grow. He does not on this album, if anything, he streamlines and considers his palatable, static form.  

Weightless, post-Britpop solids from Gallagher are few and far between but Chasing Yesterday has its fair share. Pick out those moments, discard the rest. The Right Stuff is a soppy and overblown, heavy piece which uses rock and ready guitar solos from the 1980s as cannon fodder, and rightly so. That is all guitar music of the 1980s is, and Gallagher successfully appropriates this. Point one, Gallagher. Some of the tracks throughout Chasing Yesterday have an immediately forgettable presentation to them, empty and soppy in all the loose ways which were starkly absent on the High Flying debut. Presumably, The Mexican and its crack-addled lyrics were brought out from Gallagher watching Breaking Bad, although such a venture seems unlikely as, by his own admission, reading fiction is a “fucking waste of time”. His silence on watching fiction is deafening.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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