noel gallagher's high flying birds - chasing yesterday (sour mash)

Inspired by the strong performance of his debut solo album, and spurred on by a determination to evolve and explore new terrain, Noel Gallagher has thrown off the shackles of expectation and released a bruising collection of black metal Fairport Convention covers.  

Here, Gallagher shifts his earnest vocal cadence into a terrifying scream, ripping through a fog of distortion and blast beats to claw at the very edge of the mix. There is no sign of his previous work in the record's scant 22 minutes; in its place we have a furious statement that will establish the former Oasis kingpin as a name to drop in the heavy community for years to come, 

Ah, would that it were, dear reader. Would that it were. 

"This one was produced by me, so it's more rough around the edges. It's got more character. And there's a bit more guitar action on this one, where the last one was very choral and symphonic. Apart from that, they're fucking identical." 

The above quote is from Noel himself to Simon Vosik-Levinson at Rolling Stone. This isn't a man who is going to reinvent himself in order to stay ahead of the game. His records testify that he knows what he's good at, and will not budge from that position. His discography is best summed up by the immortal words of Alan Partridge: "people like them: let's make some more of them." 

All this preamble would infer a lack of worth in Chasing Yesterday, and to go further, a questioning of its need to even exist. This isn't an entirely outrageous statement: if all that artists do is churn out the same stuff over and over, each album will bring with it a diminished value that drops to zero at the end of, say, a 21-year career. Why should we give a shit about a record by a man whose career high was exactly 20 years ago and, in his own words, is "fucking identical" to the last one? 

I'd like to answer that question for you, please. 

Noel's brand of music sits somewhere along the line of anthemic melancholy, which as that incongruous categorisation would suggest, is a really difficult trick to pull off. Triumph and adversity sitting side by side: as a listener, there's no real way to resist that. This is why Noel's music endures beyond the collection of pissed-up dickheads singing 'Don't Look Back in Anger' after closing, and is the reason why the release of a new record is greeted with much more than a shrug and a game of Who's He Ripped Off This Time? 

If you're insistent on carrying out that (admittedly fun) smug little exercise, there's plenty of opportunity here. Bowie, Beatles, Kinks, Pink Floyd: all present and correct. Noel's even content to plagiarise himself with an opening acoustic rhythm lifted from 'Wonderwall,' or an exhilarating tempo that directly echoes 'Morning Glory.' If you're not converted by now, you'll find nothing but comedy in the construction of Chasing Yesterday. 

However, if you remember how good those songs made / make you feel, dive right in. There's no shortage of ways into this record, and they're all enjoyable. The unexpected sax solos and jazzy brass sections  will draw a smile, and Noel's way with a melody remains simultaneously plaintive and assured. There's no doubt that this is a much more natural, and crucially, much less fussy record than its predecessor, despite its creator's self-effacing comments.  

It's an album written by Noel Gallagher. You know the drill by now. And even if you despise every note the man has ever played, at least you know that his promo interviews will be hilarious.