Sound — 8
Noel Gallagher formed Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds in 2010 as an instrument for his solo work, and released his self-titled debut with the band in 2011. Since that time he has toured with the band, as well as work on Oasis reissues until beginning work on "Chasing Yesterday" in 2013. The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Strangeways. The recording completed in mid-2014, though the release of the album was held off due to touring and Oasis re-releases occurring. The lead single, "In the Heat of the Moment" was released in November of 2014, followed by the second single, "Ballad of the Mighty I," which released in January 2015. The album has some guest work completed by Johnny Marr on the track "Ballad of the Mighty I," as well as backing vocal contributions by Gaz Cobain and Vula Malinga (common collaborator with Basement Jaxx). Rosie Danvers and the Wired Strings also contributed some strings to the album. There are 10 tracks with an approximate runtime of 43 minutes.
The album opens up with the track, "Riverman," which Noel has stated in interviews is his favorite track on the album - it is a love song very reminiscent of some of the later '90s work of Oasis. The second track from the album, "In the Heat of the Moment," and has a more driving tempo and rhythm. "The Girl with X-Ray Eyes" is up next, and has an interesting sound to it, with a liquid tremolo type of effect on the guitar for portions of the song. "Lock All the Doors" borrows some melody and lyrics from "Rock On" by David Essex, but only enough to catch your attention. "The Dying of the Light" is a sad or melancholy song, with a haunting piano melody playing over the acoustic guitar, bass and drums. The song's lyrics are about how getting older or the passing of time isn't what it's cracked up to be.
"The Right Stuff" is one of the more surprising songs on the album for me, with some brass instruments, tremolo-laden guitars and a cool bass line. The vocals are also harmonized with Noel and a female vocalist. "While the Song Remains the Same" opens up slowly, but it turns into something really interesting. "The Mexican" has a cool guitar riff that drives the track forward, with guest vocals by both Gaz Cobain and Vula Malinga. "You Know We Can't Go Back" is another track that capitalizes on nostalgia, much like the title of the album and other tracks, such as "The Dying of the Light." Where Noel was, emotionally, while writing this material, is pretty clear with tracks like "You Know We Can't Go Back" and "The Dying of the Light." The album closes out with "Ballad of the Mighty I," which opens with a piano, but then goes to a drum and bass groove with piano accents. It builds up nicely, with extra guitar work provided by Johnny Marr, and is a nice track to close out the album with.
Lyrics — 7
Noel Gallagher provides all of the lead vocals on the album, though he is joined with "backing vocals" by a few guests. Notably, he is joined by Gaz Cobain of The Future Sound of London on "The Mexican," and Vula Malinga, probably best known as her work as a vocal collaborator with the Basement Jaxx on the tracks, "In The Heat of the Moment" and "The Mexican." Noel's vocal performance is pretty much spot on, but there aren't really any surprises either. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from "The Dying of the Light": "I keep on running but I can't get to the mountain/ Behind lie the years that I mis-spent/ And I've been sinking like a flower in the fountain/ When all the love I'm gonna need is Heaven sent/ Gonna try my best to get there/ But I can't afford the bus fare/ And the storm that's rolling over/ Man, it makes me wanna cry/ And I was told/ The streets were paved with gold/ And there'd be no time for getting old when we were young/ And it's alright/ If you dance with me tonight/ We'll fight the dying of the light and we'll catch the sun/ Woke up sleeping on a train that was bound for no-where/ The echoes that I could hear were all my own/ The world had turned and I'd become a stranger/ Got tired of watching all the flowers turn to stone." The lyrics are melancholy and nostalgic, like a lot of the lyrics on the album.
Overall Impression — 7
The only downfall to this album is it seems to have the same problem as Oasis, and that is that it often sounds like they're trying to sound like the Beatles. They're quick to use "wall of sound" type production, which was utilized by the Beatles, and they're flirting with the line between rock music and pop music, much like the Beatles. The best moments on the album is when the songs go somewhere that doesn't sound like the Beatles, which, for me, was during tracks like "The Right Stuff" and "The Mexican." On the other hand, those songs are the ones that sound the least like Noel, in my opinion. It isn't a bad album, as I enjoyed listening to it quite a bit.