Is Noel Gallagher Chasing his Yesterday years? – album review

Posted on 20 March 2015
By Jack McKinley
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You cannot accuse Noel Gallagher, the former singer-guitarist and imperious songwriter of Oasis, of lacking self-awareness. He has had an album to promote and has done it the only way he knows how, by bullying the current music scene with his wicked tongue.

In the last month or so, for instance, he’s took a swipe at Ed Sheeran, Alex Turner, Mick Jagger, Alt-J, Sam Smith, Jake Bugg, Bastille, Kanye West and of course his beloved brother Liam (the list does go on), as well as, abusing Nick Farage, but we’ll give him that one. However, Noel knows that he has the confidence and arrogance to insult the current crop of musicians, as he has a real ace up his sleeve with Chasing Yesterday.

The follow-up to High Flying Birds’ 2011 self-titled debut, marks the first to be written as well as produced by the former Oasis member. Released earlier this month, Chasing Yesterday went straight to number 1 on the Album Chart, and became the fastest selling album of 2015 in the process.

The greater attraction of Chasing Yesterday is in the way Gallagher leaves you with a sense of optimism while leaving you reflecting on the days of the past. Just a look at the title; it instantly puts the album into perspective. The compilation leaves his usual commanding chords and drunken sing alongs with a murky, intoxicating mix that combines the long, hidden thread with the heights of Brit pop, shadows of Hunk Dory, and a little pinch of jazz and blues thrown in there to blend it all together.

Chasing Yesterday has a strong opening, with three consecutive definitive sounding Gallagher tunes, that mixes just enough experimentation to keep things away from the past. ‘Riverman’ and ‘In the heat of the moment’ are particularly quite stellar with both echoing the antiquity of Oasis, a move from a rocker who’s never minded trading in memories of the past. Both songs are complete with moody sax, flowing keyboards and layers of guitars, making them totally different to anything we’ve heard off an Oasis LP.

Noel’s tracks are deep and complex; his songs are like novels – brilliant tales of love and reminiscence.

Most of the tracks have a jazz and blues feel to them, ‘The Dying of the Light’, and ‘The Right Stuff’ revive the saxophone with a sense of space jazz , and both tunes are drenched in literary musical flush, the bass and brass are splendid on both tracks, while the harmonies are dreamy and melancholic.

There are parts of the album which do fall a little flat though, leaving fans dreaming if they could have reached their full potential. ‘Lock all the doors’, for instance, an Oasis demo from 1993 that has never seen the light of day until now, is a prime example of this. One can’t help but envision Liam Gallagher’s hoarse yet pacifying voice stroll through the opening lyrics, leaving people with a hunger for something of the past. ‘You Know We Can’t Go Back’ replies to that idea; it is effortlessly upbeat, with pauses that see the song’s piano, stream naturally into the climax ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’. It features friend and Smith’s member Johnny Marr on some outstanding guitar parts, and when we do hear Marr’s flawless guitar, with the ringing chorus, it makes it easily the first stadium-worthy song of 2015.

Chasing yesterday contains marvellous melodies, complex varied songs with additional instruments and pleasing backing vocals, which leaves the listener with optimism for the future. Perhaps Noel can establish a band for being moulded by Noel Gallagher, instead of just being remembered for being in the other half of Oasis. But with that being said, can Noel ever catch the success of yesterday?