Noel’s second outing with his High Flying Birds was an album I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I’d heard a few leaked tracks on YouTube and enormously enjoyed the vibe of the tracks – chilled tempo, a smooth delivery all round.
In Noel’s almost legendary ability to cheekily plagiarise and make something new we burst into album opener ‘Riverman’ with the first line lifted straight from ‘Something’ by The Beatles: “Something in the way she moves…” It’s a smooth track for sure and at 5:40 and some change, isn’t in a rush to get anywhere. It’s a great album opener, shaping what is to come.
It’s what was to come that was just a bit of a surprise for me. The easy tone and relaxed tempo doesn’t really evolve as the album goes along. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, I love the album and have hit well into double-digits on playthroughs but I’d have loved to have had a couple more tracks I can bounce around to while I still can. That’s my selfish side though and not what this album is all about.
Chasing Yesterday – a nod to days gone by? A flick of the v’s to anyone asking about an Oasis reunion? Who knows. By Noel’s own admission he hates the title but he’s stuck with it now. Ironically, it’s not that ‘yesterday’ Noel sound that comes through. The lyrics are more reflective, mature and in some ways a bit deeper this time around. That’s not to say there are some eyebrow-raising moments such as “They say that you need love, just like a kid on crack” on ‘The Mexican’.
The thing I really enjoy on the record is the almost-live feel at the start and end of tracks where you hear mumbles, count-ins and instructions. It feels so real, like you’re sat in the studio with them. It’s something Noel’s done a bit in the past and it’s very much a part of this album which gives it a very raw feel. On tracks like ‘You Know We Can’t Go Back’, ‘Lock All The Doors’ and ‘In The Heat Of The Moment’ it adds an extra dimension to an already brilliant selection of tracks.
The whole album from start to finish is an absolute masterclass in creating a mature, well-structured, self-produced album. There are plenty of brilliant tracks to indulge in for sure. The laid back atmospheric ‘The Dying Of The Light’ and ‘While The Song Remains The Same’ will set you up nicely for the edgy single release ‘Ballad Of The Mighty I’.
It’s not all super relaxed, 70 BPM either; there are some punchier tracks in here too, particularly the anthemic ‘Lock All The Doors’ – with its nice Marr-style guitar tone – which I almost sang along to when I didn’t even know the words. You’ll also adore ‘The Mexican’ which is a head-bopping, swaggering chunk of attitude. I challenge you to hear it and not dance a bit. I did. These hips don’t lie.
‘Revolution Song’ is something Noel fans would’ve heard before. It has been around since the Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants sessions and I am delighted it has been given a full bells-and-whistles production. It sounds magnificent and is for me one of the standout tracks on the album. Similarly, ‘Freaky Teeth’ makes an appearance and sounds absolutely magnificent also: Attitude, punch, energy, it ticks every box on the ‘Entertain Me’ list.
Chasing Yesterday is probably going to be my album of the year; I’ll put that out there right now. If you’re expecting a flashback to 1995 Noel I suggest you and your bucket hat venture elsewhere. This is a master at work showing how it’s done even after 20 years of entertaining the masses.
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