8 March 2015

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday

Taking a brief rest bite from cover roulette for a moment, I am detouring to look at the second solo album from former Oasis main song writer Noel Gallagher (I do not see why he has added a band name, it is his solo project).  Now, I deliberately did not review his first self-titled solo album as I found it to be a bit of a let-down.  However, for a long while there was rumours that the follow up would be done with the Amorphous Androgynous; but for reasons that neither act have really cleared up, that album has been scrapped.  Which is a shame as it could have reinvented Noel Gallagher the front man into a new pioneer and not a musical magpie.  But alas that album is now in a vault rotting away (please someone drop it on the internet like a musical Pandora's Box) and Mr Gallagher is returning with a more traditional album for his fans and the rest of the world.  I am not going to lie, I am not really expecting anything more than a solid album that will have little in the way of surprises; but it will still piss on anything that Beady Eye ever released.  Let's see if I am right.....

"Riverman" starts this album with an acoustic driven number that is a standard Gallagher number, easy lyrics mixed with music that does not offend but it does not bring anything different to the table either.  It is very easy to see why people would fall over themselves to sing its praises and to also derail it for its lack of change.  For me, I see it from both ends but I do not dislike it by any stretch of the imagination; it is just a gentle entry into the album which feels like it could have been from any of the later day Oasis records.  The second song is called "In The Heat of The Moment" which has a blues type of beginning, a catchy chorus which will have his fans singing along and a basic drumbeat that drives this number along well.  Once again, there is nothing wrong here at all; but it is still not exciting to these ears and that is something that I feel might become a pattern as we go along with this album.  "The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes" follows on and slows the mood down the mood to a certain degree, with a lament towards a love that have vanished; it is the shortest album on the record and if you like Ocean Colour Scene then this will be a song that will satisfy your musical thirst.  I do not want to sound like a broken record, but it is following the pattern of the first two songs; well played and also as exciting as a political broadcast.  "Lock All The Doors" starts off with feedback and then goes into the similar music that made 'What's The Story (Morning Glory)' the exciting release it was all those years ago.  But when it comes down to it, this is a rehash of past glories and nothing original is happening here.  It is a stomping track and more interesting that the first three, but it is still a glaring admission of what is the crux of this album (more on that later).

"The Dying of the Light" is another slowed down number which really could have been called "The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes Part 2".  It really does not make anything new for the listener, but if you have liked anything Noel Gallagher has done since 1994 then it will have that familiar theme which will make the faithful raise their voices in union when he starts to tour this record.  I can once again see the beauty of the number, but with that you also see why some people would not like this number.  A similar step which is becoming painfully predictable on this record.  "The Right Stuff" follows on and it is for once something a little bit different to the rest of the record - a tight and repetitive strumming on the guitar, horn section giving a subtle backdrop, a strong drumming performance and light vocals which bring a great performance to the number.  When the vocals get louder, it takes a little from the number but not enough to detriment the song itself.  A really good number and I wonder if it is one which was originally destined to be on that aborted album with Amorphous Androgynous.  Next is "While The Song Remains The Same", which starts with a Pink Floyd keyboard solo before it descends into another number which is much more exciting that the beginning of the album, it is nothing we have not heard before from Mr Gallagher; it has a feel like it is a song from a different decade and it is out of time, but once again I cannot fault the performance if I am honest.

Next is "The Mexican" which is the song of the album which is the first song on the album which I can safely say bores me; there is nothing about it that is redeeming and I will feel better for not hearing it again. Nothing to see here, lets more along.  The penultimate number is called "You Know We Can't Go Back" which stomps along with more pace than a lot of the album, it has an energy that is missing from a large chunk of this record; if this song is wrote without irony then I will be surprised, the title is something that people have been saying about the music of Mr Gallagher for many years, but it is a song about lost loves and reminding yourself that you cannot go back to the past.  Once again, decent number but nothing new here at all.  It naturally fades into the final number of the album (and second single off the record) "Ballad of The Mighty I" which feature Johnny Marr on guitars as well.  Instead of doing a slow ending number, this is bass heavy funky vibe which is different at least for this listener.  It ends the album on a hope for the future, it might mean that other things are around the corner but let’s finish off this review first.

I think I know what the problems (for me at least) with this album boils down to - there is nothing new here that Noel Gallagher has not done before, it is very safe and I would also like to stress it is well played as well.  It has a couple of numbers on the record that sound as if they are cut from a slightly different cloth to the usual material that Mr Gallagher uses, but for the most part it is business as usual; and this is not enough to shield the album from its flaws or to make it anything other than an album that is the musical equivalent to treading water. The word homoeostasis is perfect for this album as is the title; but you cannot keep chasing the past, at some time you have to look forwards and if Noel Gallagher ever does that, I will sing his praises.  If you are a fan of his previous stuff, I am sure you will enjoy it.  Also, as I thought it would - this pisses all over the Beady Eye albums as well (but we expected no less, did we).

6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

Top track - The Right Stuff

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Noel Gallagher website here

For our Spotify users, here is a link for you

However, if you are a Deezer user this is the link for you

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