By Declan Roberts (DeclanMR)
Making a second solo record when you’re one half of the Gallagher brothers must be a very difficult task. Sure enough, we’re not talking about Liam here. He’s knocking around somewhere tapping his feet in secret to his brother’s new single ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’ which even sounds like an ode to the triumph of Noel’s non-stop rocket trajectory to victory. And now that always superior shoegazers Ride have returned to the limelight Liam has found himself kicked even further down the pecking order.
But enough about Liam, it’s Noel that’s creating some of the best music of his career on latest album ‘Chasing Yesterday’. After his self-titled debut, featuring his super-talented backing band, there seems to be no way that it could be topped but he just won’t back down from the chance to prove people wrong. Self-produced this time after a schedule clash with regular collaborator Dave Sardy, Noel relished the “freedom” this time. Speaking to NME in January, Noel revealed opening track ‘Riverman’ is his favourite track from the new album; a true inspiration from the Oasis days, and an example of his songwriting at its best. In Noel’s own words, ‘it’s fucking amazing. It’s my favourite track on the album, and one of my favourites I’ve ever done’.
Noel’s tracks are deep and intricate. His songs are like novels, excellent stories of love and nostalgia at times with a psychedelic feel of longing. Most of the tracks have the jazz and blues elements that were breaking through on the last record, ‘The Dying of the Light’ and ‘The Right Stuff’ springing immediately to mind. ‘In The Heat of The Moment’ sounds like a re-invention of the brilliant ‘(I Wanna Live In a Dream In My) Record Machine’ and ‘Lock All The Doors’ has been twelve years in the making, easily the heaviest number on the album. There’s not a trace of Britpop in it, just classic rock’n’roll at its best.
‘You Know We Can’t Go Back’ could be an off-cut from his first record, perfectly up tempo with deliberate pauses that help the song’s piano instrumental flow effortlessly into finale ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’ featuring friend Johnny Marr on some superb guitar parts. The track sums Noel up in one. Nearly all instruments known to man are used to their advantage and when Marr’s guitar part hits it becomes an anthem that could awe any arena crowd. Noel is on his way to becoming a true icon in his own right away from the Oasis legacy. He doesn’t need a Glastonbury reunion or half a million quid. What he needs is his High Flying Birds, a studio and a pen and he’s pretty damn sorted.