The second album from the former Oasis main man Noel Gallagher and his band is a strong flowing and well realized dose of northern soul.
The freedom of being unshackled from the dramatics of his former group has allowed Gallagher to hone in on groove, and the performance and writing is fluid. This allows room for play and Gallagher’s penchant for mixing strong hooks and ambiance infused drama is well realized.
Chasing Yesterday is a dusky groover that is easy on the ears. The first track, Riverman, has a hint of background haze and adventurism that sets up the tone for what is to follow. It seems that Gallagher’s full-on leadership role (main writer and producer, as well as lead singer and guitarist) make the pace and mood consistent and dreamy.
The group takes the cue to get abstract on The Girl With the X-Ray Eyes, a mature study of Gallagher’s passion for The Beatles and ‘60’s rock and psychedelia.
Gallagher wears his influences well.
A lot of the album’s heart lies in songs like The Dying of the Light. It has the patented, loping acoustic rhythm chiming underneath a keening vocal, like some old-time ballad singer walked off the moors onto a stage in some Manchester stadium, aiming to plug in and rock out.
Gallagher and the High Flying Birds (co-guitarist Tim Smith, bassist Russell Pritchard, Mike Rowe on keyboards and drummer Jeremy Stacey) indulge in a few classic rock-style tangents.
The Right Stuff has a jammy Exile on Main Street-type looseness and While the Song Remains the Same has early Fleetwood Mac guitar figures. Fellow Manchester rocker, Johnny Marr, adds enlightening guitar textures to a hypnotic Brit-disco track (Ballad of The Mighty I).
Chasing Yesterday doesn’t have the all out anthemic onslaught of early Oasis, but it’s a more steady, on quality consistent recording than some of that band’s material.
This music could still bridge a gap between football hooligans and brooding would-be poets as well.
It’s soulful British rock that moves on from its ‘90s renaissance.