Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday (Album Review)

A predictable addition to one of the most exhaustively one dimensional back catalogues in music history

Unlike the majority of people my age or within ten years older than that – 19-29 – I don’t piss myself with excitement every time a Britpop mega star promises new solo work. I didn’t with Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots last year and I haven’t with this, Noel Gallagher’s second solo album Chasing Yesterday. It’s not that I dislike Britpop really, it’s more a dislike for the arrogance – often misplaced it should be emphasised – of the people who created it. Sure, “Wonderwall”, “Common People”, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” are great songs but they don’t stand up to most of the stuff made before or even after it, regardless of what their creators might have you believe. Still, he’s not in Oasis anymore and therefore doesn’t have his brother to cite as the problems with the record and still, the fact is Chasing Yesterday is a substandard album by someone well past his best – but still I have to say, miles more enjoyable that anything the other Gallagher could even dream of creating, twenty years on from his hey day. Gallagher has become an almost Bono-like figure in his delusion of his own image and exagerrated self-importance and, the quality of his latest work continues that comparison further. At least the fury over U2’s Songs Of Innocence was based around the music and it’s distribution rather than the grouchy comments its producer made about the state of modern music that outfits such as NME so gladly lap-up and report to the thankfully narrow section of society to whom Gallagher is still the be all and end all.

Opener “Riverman” begins with the percussive strumming of a chunky acoustic guitar a la “Wonderwall”. Gallagher rarely sounds like such a cliché of the environment he made his name in – vocally speaking – as he does here. He sounds like a man existing, but doing little else besides that, in the space his legacy has carved out for him, running through the motions that were groundbreaking – somehow – 20 years ago but are now exhausted and repetitive. “In The Heat Of The Moment” is rockier in comparison and Gallagher sounds more alive as a result. The ‘nah nah nah’s are a tired prerequisite of any ex-Britpop artist’s new stuff – aside from Albarn’s dreary aforementioned Everyday Robots – and because of this seemingly inescapable bond that Gallagher has with his past, there is room for both nostalgia and annoyance here and, depending on where you stand on Oasis often depends on which emotion you feel more.

“The Girl With X-Ray Eyes” is dreamier and less momentous than either of its predecessors. It’s not emphatic, nor is it really anything new. It just is exactly what you expect from a Noel Gallagher album which, to all intents and purposes, for the most part, is exactly what Chasing Yesterday is. An embodiment of a prejudiced idea of the only music that Gallagher is capable of producing. The Britpoppers have always struck me as the most one-dimensional breed of artists to ever be successful in music history and Chasing Yesterday is just further proof of that. The fairly anthemic ‘Lock All The Doors’ will do well at Gallagher’s predictable live dates this summer but will do little else.

And there really is very little else to comment on here. If you like Oasis, chances are you’ll like this – unless you remain one of those most insufferable of now mid-30 somethings still yearning after a reunion of ‘the last band to make proper music’ and, in that case, you can fuck off altogether. The lead single “The Ballad Of The Mighty I” is definitely the best track on the album but they’re all fairly interchangeable and, most significantly, predictable. 2.5/5


Mike Watkins, Music writer at Seroword

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  1. Not surprising to see Gallagher create a so so album. Oasis was probably the most overrated band of the 90s.

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