Album review: Chasing Yesterday — Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

With no Oasis reunion likely and Liam’s solo project going up in smoke last year, Oasis fans will have to make do for now with Chasing Yesterday, which, despite being recorded under the name of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, is essentially a solo album.

Noel Gallagher, left, and Jeremy Stacey of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds perform at the 2012 Coachella festival in California. Kevin Winter / Getty Images for Coachella / AFP
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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Chasing Yesterday

Sour Mash

4 stars

Twenty years ago, the British five-piece band Oasis were about to ride the crest of a wave. Led by the cool-as-you-like Gallagher brothers Noel and Liam, they bagged their first UK number No 1 single in April 1995 with the boisterous lad's classic Some Might Say.

Six months later, the band's second album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? was released to near universal acclaim. It went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide and remains pretty much the definitive Britpop album.

That was then. These days, the brothers barely speak to each other. Oasis split for the final time in 2009 after years of simmering tension and diminishing creative returns.

There remains, nevertheless, a great public desire for the band to reform, although that seems unlikely. When Noel was pressed on the matter during a recent interview — and he reckons every interviewer prods him on the subject — he said, simply, that he didn’t need the hassle any more.

With no band reunion likely and Liam's solo project going up in smoke last year, Oasis fans will have to make do for now with Chasing Yesterday, which, despite being recorded under the name of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, is essentially a solo album.

Never knowingly undersold, Gallagher has claimed more than once over the years that the project he is working on at any given time is his masterpiece, only for it to turn out to be nothing more than fool’s gold.

He's made similar pronouncements about this album — and this time it turns out he's right. Chasing Yesterday is an absolute belter.

Good songs litter this release as, indeed, do Gallagher’s influences. Always one to heavily reference the musical styles of his heroes — in particular The Beatles — this one seems to sound most like a hybrid of mid-1990s Paul Weller and Oasis from about the same time.

The album's opener, Riverman, could easily have been written by the Modfather for Wildwood or Stanley Road, although there is a heavy touch of Lennon and McCartney in there, too.

The Girl with X-Ray Eyes and Lock All the Doors, meanwhile, sound as if they belong on Morning Glory.

Some will no doubt make much of the album's title, which suggests Gallagher is obsessed with former glories, but that chain of thought will be unsettled by You Know We Can't Go Back, which, as far as a declaration of intent goes, is pretty unambiguous.

Ballad of the Mighty I, featuring fellow Mancunian Johnny Marr, closes the album in ­energetic fashion.

It’s a wonderful album and one that raises a question: who would want to go back to Oasis when Gallagher sounds this good right now?

nmarch@thenational.ae