Released 7th March
Recapturing past glories is a concept that most people will be familiar with, but for Noel Gallagher, it’s a damning quest that hits particularly close to home. After the stratospheric success of Oasis’ first two albums, Gallagher’s understandable plight in trying to reach similar heights has left him in the peculiar place of being one of the most underrated songwriters of his generation. Now rid of the stadium-rock sized expectations (and the Liam-shaped boulder) he has been carrying over the past two decades, he finds himself free to write the music he wants, Chasing Yesterday is both a surprising and brilliant addition to the Gallagher-canon.
The album kicks off with ‘Riverman’, a groovy, meandering opener tinged in light psychedelia. A Santana-esque guitar solo follows the mysterious chorus, before – wait for it – a saxophone solo rushes in to alleviate (think Pink Floyd, rather than George Michael). As the sax comes back to round off the song, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this may be one of Gallagher’s best – a bold claim to make about a man whose repertoire includes overplayed, monolithic pop-rock standards such as ‘Wonderwall’ or ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. ‘Riverman’ is a departure from Gallagher’s roots, but it is still imprinted with his DNA; the simple, yet irresistible vocal melodies and unforgettable choruses that only he knows the secret to.
Hardcore Oasis aficionados shouldn’t be worried though – there is plenty here for those looking for more classic Noel songs. ‘Lock all the Doors’ is one of those throwaway rock numbers that Gallagher has fashioned so often down the years. One suspects that with Liam on vocals, it really wouldn’t sound out of place on either of Oasis’ first two records.
The album echoes with a bittersweet quality; a certain anxiety permeates the whole record, but always streaked with Gallagher’s unending sense of hope, most apparent on ‘The Dying of the Light’. A moody, almost paranoid number where Gallagher rages against the empty promises and fallacies we hold about growing up (“I was told there’d be no time for growing old when we were young”), he still has faith that it’ll all be okay in the end.
Despite the themes, Chasing Yesterday is, ironically, a sonic testament to Gallagher growing up as a songwriter, comfortable in his own skin. There is no ‘nudging out of the comfort zone’ being done here; nothing sounds forced, which might be an indication that he has finally made peace, and given up on chasing the successes of yesteryear.