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Posted on March 26th, 2015 (2:00 pm) by Casey Bauer

Perhaps it's unfair to listen to a band from behind the lens of what they say outside of a recording studio. However, when you're as opinionated as Noel Gallagher, it's hard not to at least hear his words.

The ex-Oasis rockstar (and grumpy brother of the equally grumpy Liam Gallagher) is infamous for spewing his stance on just about anything and everything, often times in strings of four-lettered words. This has become such a norm that publications seize every opportunity possible to get a rise out of Noel. Whether it's asking his opinion of Taylor Swift and One Direction, or politics, or his rocky relationship with Liam (see every interview ever), the media can trust that Noel Gallagher will deliver something simultaneously cringeworthy and laughable.

One of the media's favorite pokes is Gallagher's time with Oasis, and whether or not he would ever consider reforming the band. We're not getting our hopes up though, partially because one billion dollars is a huge demand, but also because we know how the brother's explosive arguments proved to be both the linchpin and the final straw for the band. The Gallaghers have since parted ways and formed their own groups, with Noel now on his second record with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Titled Chasing Yesterday, the album is lukewarm, but if you were to ask Gallagher himself, he'd certainly tell you differently. Equating Chasing Yesterday to the band's debut release, Gallagher says, “Why does the world need another Noel Gallagher album? Well, clearly it doesn't. Why should it want another Noel Gallagher album? Because it may make them a better person if they listen to it.”

Claiming that the record is more “eclectic” than the band's first, Chasing Yesterday is made up of generic, mid-tempo rock. That's not to say the record is bad, but for all the hype Gallagher gives it, it's nothing we haven't heard before. Most of the songs bleed together, and it's difficult to walk away differentiating specific hooks or lyrical lines, an irony we revel in considering Gallagher's views on choruses: “It’s the most difficult thing in the world to write a memorable chorus. It doesn’t happen by luck. You have either f***ing got it or you haven’t.”

Contrarily, today's music scene has shown us that it's really not that hard to write a memorable song, and yet, Chasing Yesterday proves to be both elusive and predictable with every moody chord shift and anthem-rock build. Of course, Gallagher is no newbie to the music scene, so we question why his album is crafted so formualically. Giving credit where it's due, each track does has small intricacies that separates them from one another, but that's the catch: Chasing Yesterday plateaus so gradually, that it's easy to tune out as opposed to inviting us to be active listeners.

Never one to shy from a hyperbole, Gallagher thinks that “Riverman” may be one of the best (or favorite) songs he's written, but we don't see it. The song is a breakup vignette in the middle of a literal and figurative rainstorm, sadly proving to be an idea we've seen and heard countless times before. Instead, “Riverman” is held together by its timeless sound, a moody guitar, and not one, but two saxophone solos.

“The Girl With X-Ray Eyes,” inspired by Gallagher's wife, also draws on an older rock era with a intro resembling the famous arpeggio in “Stairway to Heaven.” Unable to stand on its own like Zeppelin's hit, however, the song instead functions more like a foreshadow of later songs, such as “The Dying Of The Light.”

Don't get us wrong; there are moments to celebrate in Chasing Yesterday. “The Mexican” switches up instrumentation and we love the demented-doll “wa-wa” vocals. “Ballad of the Mighty I” is one of a few anthem-y tracks, but the string arrangement makes for something a little different, while rich vocals and a gorgeous bass tickle also make “The Right Stuff” one of the most textured songs on the record.

We're sure that Noel had high hopes (or affirmations) for Chasing Yesterday, but we can't deny that the album is lacking an innovation that could change the game for Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Most of the album hovers around a similar tempo, and every song is guaranteed to have semi-clunky lyrics, a vocal range too timid to stray out of its comfort zone, and basic rhythms that makes us wonder if the drummer knows that beats can be syncopated.

There's no harm in an artist being a little opinionated in the public eye (hey, it works for Kanye), but objectivity is also a beautiful thing. Talking your recent record up is all part of the publicity game, but it's also important to take a step back, and in the case of Chasing Yesterday, we simply can't trust everything that Noel says. The record isn't a disaster, but it didn't necessarily make us better people, either.

Track List:

  1. Riverman
  2. In the Heat of the Moment
  3. The Girl with X-Ray Eyes
  4. Lock All the Doors
  5. The Dying of the Light
  6. The Right Stuff
  7. While the Song Remains the Same
  8. The Mexican
  9. You Know We Can't Go Back
  10. Ballad of the Mighty I
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

57 / 100
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