You wouldn’t begrudge Noel having a cheeky little smile on his face when he heard that his brother’s band Beady Eye were calling it a day recently. But this isn’t the ex-Oasis man’s style; instead Noel wittily offered to write songs for a Liam solo album. Petty? Maybe. Funny? Definitely. Having won the battle of the brothers by being the more successful thus far, Noels second solo effort, Chasing Yesterday, shows that he’s still sticking to the same path he loves, but glances towards a less travelled road are what really help the record surpass his first solo effort.
After bailing out on the Amorphous Androgynous produced record, there were those who thought his new effort might give us a glimpse into the sessions that never surfaced; this has proven to be unfounded, but slices of psychedelica do rear their heads at times. Riverman gently takes you by the hand and carries you along towards Pink Floyd style riffs, then lowers you back down with strong melodies and lyrics of succinctness. The Right Stuff is supposedly taken from those early AA demos, and experiments with jazz composition, making the track sound distant but clear, vulnerable but strong.
Before you know it, you’re back in classic Noel territory with In the Head of The Moment; it sizzles and sparks while leading up to a chorus straight from 90s indie, but then warps your mind with its bluesy riffs and thumping chorus.
With influences always shining through on Gallagher’s records, Chasing Yesterday is no different; The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes sounds like 70s era Bowie, whereas The Mexican’s power guitar is something akin to T-Rex, with Noel throwing off cliché’s about not feeling the heat behind the setting sun. If there’s an album out there where Noel doesn’t mention the sun, it must be some kind of rarity.
If anything, at times this record feels like it’s holding back a little. It’s all good stuff, but Noel restrains himself instead of really going for it. Maybe its age, maybe is fear, or maybe, just maybe, he might be missing Liam a little. Whatever it is, it’s only a fleeting thought before you get pulled back in with Ballad of the Mighty I. An epic in the vein of What A life but with more depth, the track plays upon the simplicity of melody before building up to a wonderfully balanced chorus of overlapping vocals and gorgeous imagery. Johnny Marr makes a welcome appearance on guitar, which really brings together the tracks hypnotic nature.
Chasing Yesterday is a deceiving title for the record because it’s a definite step forward. It might be just a step, but at least Noel’s feeling confident enough to venture slowly towards something new. Having written so many number ones and still being able to find new melodies and rhythms that are so appealing is the sign of a great songwriter, and one that sounds like he won’t be stopping anytime soon.