Album Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, ‘Chasing Yesterday’
Did Noel Gallagher just release an album full of adult contemporary music?
No, not really. But you'd be forgiven for wondering that after the lead track from Chasing Yesterday kicks off. It's not a bad song, although when your head nods along it might be because you're having a hard time paying attention. It might not be the greatest start to brother Noel's second solo disc, but the situation does improve.
Okay, so Chasing Yesterday has a few uneventful songs. Maybe more than a few. But it has some moments of brilliance, too. The album's second track, "In the Heat of the Moment," is saved by some nice production and a bevy of "Nah nah nahs." But calling your song "In the Heat of the Moment"? I can barely muster the wherewithal to type out a reference to 1980s hit makers Asia and their chart-topper of the same name.
Talking about which songs Gallagher is homaging holds no challenge. Noel, Liam and Oasis turned using their influences into an art form, and they did so with panache. Gallagher continues the tradition but without injecting any of that famous Oasis smarm that played such a big part in their popularity.
The record has some golden moments, to be sure. "The Girl With the X-Ray Eyes" is the closest thing to a new old-school David Bowie song we'll ever get. It gives me a warm, nostalgic feeling when I listen to it. And closer "The Ballad of Mighty I" is arguably the best song on the album.
It's not like Gallagher doesn't know how to write songs. "Lock All the Doors" is a nice little three-chord ripper of a rock song. "You Know We Can't Go Back" is also completely listenable. For that matter, all of the songs on Chasing Yesterday are solid rock songs, but they unfortunately have no life of their own.
The album tracklist reads like a mixtape your uncle made you for your 13th birthday. Didn't some other bands already record songs called "Riverman" and "While the Song Remains the Same"? As a matter of fact, "The Right Stuff" originally hit the airwaves as a New Kids on the Block tune. As I recall, it was pretty popular.
At this point, we know what to expect. And we don't mind the never-ending pastiche thing, but for it to work, something new has to be mixed in with all the old influences. The biggest flaw in this album is that there isn't enough of Noel Gallagher in them.
Maybe if Liam was singing ...