Album Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Chasing Yesterday”

Alas, the Tyrion of Oasis returns. Anyone who knows the history of Oasis and the plot of Game of Thrones hopefully understands the analogy I’m making. I’ll explain in pictures.

The Game of Thrones Side:

Peter Dinklage_ photo Helen Sloan-HBO.jpg wildfire tyrionontrial joffrey tyrion in jail

And now the Oasis side:

OasisDefinitelyMaybealbumcoverScreen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.40.21 PM

oasiswhattheScreen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.40.48 PM

BeHereNowcoverScreen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.42.07 PM

oasistadium

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.38.58 PMnoelunplugged

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.50.50 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.45.06 PM

beadyeye

It’s such a shame all that resulted in one of the shittiest bands ever. Thank God they finally broke up, which is also what Liam and his ex-wife did, which is why he’s currently entangled in a court case regarding child support.

But what wasn’t a shame about the breakup of Oasis was that Noel Gallagher went off and made music on his own (not that he wasn’t before, technically speaking). Because his band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, kind of kick ass. I can’t say I’ve really gotten into them much until now, but I can say that the 2011 eponymous album was pretty good. It was ranked #9 on Rolling Stone’s list of the best 50 albums of 2011. I consider Rolling Stone to be pretty credible, aside from some isolated incidents here and there.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 5.03.32 AM

But it would make sense that the mastermind behind Oasis, the band that defined a generation and continues to influence musicians and non-musicians alike, can still create some damn good music. And I’ll be quite honest with you: Chasing Yesterday is the best album Noel Gallagher has made since (What’s The Story) Morning Glory in 1995. I feel I’ve listened to enough Oasis to be able to say that. So without further ado, I’d like to take you on a track by track tour of Chasing Yesterday.

1. “Riverman”

From the starting line, this song reminds me of Frank Turner’s “Wessex Boy”. And the only reason for that is the recital of “One, two, three, four” at the beginning of the track. SPOILER: It won’t be the first either. Otherwise, it sounds nothing like Frank Turner. The acoustic guitar and saxophone make it sound like this song is being listened to in a smokey, 1960’s bar. The lyrics are mysterious enough to give off that type of vibe. And that guitar solo right smack in the middle is bitchin’, which is enough for me to give this track a thumbs up.

2. “In the Heat of the Moment”

This is the first single from the album. All over the interwebs, faux music critics (heh, that’s me) are whining about the nanana’s and the bells. The nanana’s, kind of like whistling, are something that when it works, you know it works.

atstcdsingle

And when it doesn’t work, you definitely know it doesn’t work.

bieber

Okay, so maybe it’s dependent on whether I actually like the artist or not.

But the point is, I think it works well enough in this song to make it enjoyable. The nanana’s aren’t a cop-out either, it’s not like they’re filling in at a point where the songwriter just couldn’t come up with lyrics. It’s only teased in the beginning of the track, right after more counting off and a bass drum lead in. The bass on this song is the best on the entire album. And I did mention the lyrics already, so here’s a little excerpt:

“So honey please don’t let go
Or you’ll fall into the dead of night
So honey please don’t let go
You’d better learn to fly
‘Cause they’re gonna point you up at the sky

I have no issue with that. The song is about an Astronaut who went to space and felt like he was going to meet God. That’s an actual story too, the guy said it in an interview.

3. “The Girl With X-Ray Eyes”

I’ll be honest, this one is kind of a buzz kill. Nothing particularly wrong with it, there’s just nothing really attractive about. To be frank, it’s kind of boring. And also overtly sexual for no good reason.

“So she took me by the hand
We followed clues left in the sand
as she swallowed space and time
We gathered, pulled, and swam
She shot me to the sun,
like a bullet from the gun…”

At 47, we know Noel has not fallen victim to D.D.S. yet. I’m referencing and HBO documentary about dementia right now.

4. “Lock All the Doors”

I’m not sure what the rules are for this, but this is now the third song (we’re only four into the album) that starts with the “One, two, one two three four”. I don’t see a rule against doing this, but let’s implement a three song per album rule from now on.

But this song is actually an unfinished song from the Oasis era. Noel said it took him 23 years to finish, and that the chorus is “brilliant”. Let’s examine that sentiment.

“Lock All the Doors
Maybe I’ll never find out
If I can be sure
Like never before this time
The girl on the floor
Turn all the lights
If I can be sure
Like never before this time
You know it’s mine
You know it’s mine”

Well, I wouldn’t particularly grant these “brilliant” status, mainly because that mostly sounds like a self-given accolade. But I suppose they’re good. I do feel like I could write something better in 23 minutes though. But the instruments are pretty phenomenal on this track. The bass stays consistently groovy throughout the track, and there’s another bitchin’ guitar solo.

5. “The Dying of the Light” + 6. “The Right Stuff”

This song is one of a few on this album that sounds like it was on an early Oasis album. Is that a bad thing? Well, no. However, I’d like to hear something a little different. The guitar solo is also pretty lackluster on this one. I include these songs together because there is a segue, and the songs sound like they could be one song. The former does have some attractive vocals, the same that brought Noel into the spotlight with his lead vocals on “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. But the latter, I just can’t really listen to. I don’t enjoy it in any way. The attempt at the complex arrangement of instruments at the end is a sound that, admittedly, could grow on me, but as of now is nothing special.

7. “While The Song Remains The Same”

We have a delay on this song before we get the… take a guess. At least this song is good, but again I’m not sure what the socially accepted cap on one-to-four lead-ins is. I’m not going to give this song great status, but it breaks the monotony of the last two.

8. “The Mexican”

“They say that you need love
Just like a kid on crack”

…Well that’s kind of in bad taste, right? I mean, I guess he’s right, but a regular person needing love is a little different from a kid on crack needing love. Most people will find love anyway and they just freak out about it in the heat of the moment (pun intended), but all kids on crack have to do is wait around long enough for LaDainian Tomlinson or some other dude from the NFLPA to come teach them how to play football. Then they’re free.

imt0p

Anyways, about this song. If you were to put its intro over either of the Samus maps from Super Smash Bros., it would fit perfectly. If you know the song that normally is the background music of those maps, then you’ll know that I’m not exactly complimenting it. But I do the think the chorus is catchy and the guitar solo is totally gnar, bruh. So I’ll give it half a point.

9. “You Know We Can’t Go Back”

The title of this song is screaming “I HATE YOU LIAM OASIS IS NEVER HAPPENING AGAIN”. How can one be expected to not assume that?

But it’s in bad taste, because this track is so ambiguous that you can’t assume that. And saying it’s ambiguous, preceded by the word “so”, does not mean I don’t like it. Because this song is hooky as hell. I’m going dismiss the one-to-four lead in because I don’t want to start ranting, but any songs dealing with stars is usually one I’ll be fond of. And harmonies too. I like those.

Okay, the lyric, “It’s alright to know we can’t go back” is literally bleeding Liam. For anyone wondering, there isn’t going to be an Oasis reunion. Oasis was never on board for the fucking rad guitar solos (this word is spelt the same backwards) anyway. I like those too.

10. “The Ballad of the Mighty I”

HOLY SHIT THE SEGUE IS FUCKING NASTY. The segue between these two tracks rivals some of the other greatest segues I’ve come to know. I’m talking American Idiot, all four on Enema of the State, the vague one from “Into The Heart” to “Out of Control” on U2’s Boy, “Hey, Johnny Park!” to “My Poor Brain” on The Colour and the Shape, from “Enterlude” to “When You Were Young” on Sam’s Town, and perhaps my favorite, from “Pink Triangle” to “Falling For You” on Pinkerton.

Yes, I was looking for an excuse to list my favorite segues. But at least I’m making a point. Those segues are all outrageously good. This one though? It just may be better than all of them. The way the previous track fades with the singular piano notes continuing, and then how the energetic drumming kicks in is something I’ve never heard before, as well as the funky bass kicking in shortly after the drums. This song is arranged absolutely masterfully. The way the heavy guitar rings out int he middle of certain lyrics almost sounds Boston-like. Like the band. Cities don’t do that.

What’s weird about this song (again, I didn’t say “bad”) is that there’s no chorus. There’s just three chunks of lyrics. They all flow smoothly and sound enough alike that the instrumentation can be repeated effectively. The use of echoing is also placed perfectly. Basically what I’m getting at is that this is the best on the album. Part of me almost wishes it was an Oasis song.

The Verdict:

8/10

Why do people want an Oasis reunion so bad when Noel Gallagher is making music like this?

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 6.03.52 PM

Standout Tracks:

“Riverman”, “In the Heat of the Moment”, “You Know We Can’t Go Back”, “Ballad of the Mighty I”

One thought on “Album Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Chasing Yesterday”

Comments are closed.