Noel Gallagher is perhaps best known as the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for the world-famous Britpop band Oasis. His virtuosic word-smithery, signature guitar riffs, and delicate sense of rhythm and melody played an essential role in reviving global interest in british music back in the mid-1990’s, leaving a thick imprint on the landscape of popular music. But it’s not only his multifaceted compositions that make him so compelling as an artist. His flamboyant and at times provocative personality has attracted a lot of controversy over the years, so much that he and his equally tempered brother Liam had to call it quits on Oasis in 2009. Since then, Gallagher has had a very successful solo career with the High Flying Birds, releasing a self-titled album in 2011. Now he’s at it again with a brand new record, containing both new material and old demos that go as far back as 1992. So how exactly does it hold up against his past work?
Well, that all depends of what kind of listener you are. You see, “Chasing Yesterday” is not particularly groundbreaking or innovative. However, it does what it does so well, that even old ideas seem new again. Sonically, it’s very reminiscent of Oasis’ 1994 debut album “Definitely Maybe”, booming with seismic fuzz-guitars, insanely catchy choruses, and classic rock sensibilities to keep you engaged well beyond the first spin of the record. But there is also a certain level of progression to pay attention to here. Many of the songs radiate with psychedelic pastiche to the likes of Pink Floyd and 13th Floor Elevators, and that is meant in the most possible way. Just listen to the jazz/rock fusion on “The Right Stuff”, one of the absolute highlights on the disc. On this particular track, Gallagher really steps out of his comfort-zone and shows us how able he is to adapt his formula to just about any genre across the musical spectrum. Dirty saxophones and trippy keyboards come together so smoothly, forming a brilliant hybrid between The Black Keys and Miles Davis.
It is on a cut like this where the genius of Noel’s songwriting-abilities truly comes to fruition. He has such an eclectic taste in music, and his influences seep seamlessly through the cracks of songs like the garage-rock tinged “The Mexican”, which takes a turn towards a slightly edgier rock-sound in the veins of The White Stripes’ “De Stijl”-era. “Riverman” is another showcase of the psychedelic undercurrent flowing throughout the album, making itself noticeable for its funk-driven bass-line and “My Bloody Valentine”-esque vocal mixing. But there are also times when Gallagher just lets the simplicity of an incredible hook speak for itself, such as on the too-cool-for-school chilli pepper “The Heat of the Moment”. or the pure blast of rock n’ roll that is “You Know We Can’t Go Back” – perhaps the most Oasis-like tune to be found on here.
It is actually really hard to find anything bad to say about “Chasing Yesterday”. The only real complaint I have is that some of the songs feel a bit too safe, as if he was running short on fresh material. In this case, I’m thinking specifically of “Lock All The Doors”, and old Oasis demo, and “The Girl With X-Ray Eyes”. Neither of them are terrible songs, but they don’t really add anything to the dynamic of the album. Maybe it’s because they sound so much like Oasis circa 1995. Now, that’s not necessarily a negative. It just muddles the overall direction of wanting to expand the sound. It occurs strange to me that someone would choose those tracks above some of the great delights included in the deluxe edition. “Do the Damage” and “Freaky Teeth” would’ve fit so much better with the tone established by the rest of the collection. But then again, that’s more personal nitpicking than an actually flaw. And hey, you can always buy the deluxe version!
Do the Damage (Deluxe)
The Right Stuff
You Know We Can’t Go Back
“While the Song Remains the Same”
Mathias Folsted Film/Music/TV critic, columnist, and news-writer
An aspiring filmmaker, film critic and YouTuber. Previous experience include extensive work for the largest danish film site, www.filmz.dk, where I served as junior editor, film critic, columnist, and news writer. Also a graduate from the European Film College, I've been a lover of motion pictures for as long as I can remember. My criticism is always honest, but above all emotional.