Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Chasing Yesterday - album review: It's hard not to hope for more from someone so outspoken

The best track on Chasing Yesterday is “Lock All the Doors”

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The Independent Culture

It isn’t hard to see why eyebrows were raised and fuming Facebook entries typed (thanks, Sleaford Mods) when Noel Gallagher moaned about the lack of excitement in guitar-rock recently. After all, when did Gallagher’s output last truly excite?

After 20 years of meat’n’spuds bloke-rock, Gallagher ranks with U2 for his wariness of anything that might jeopardise his arena hold. No one expects otherwise now, but it’s hard not to hope for more from someone so outspoken than an album resigned to raking over past glories from under a big budget’s shelter.

The best track on Chasing Yesterday – the clue’s in the title – really is a past high: dating from 1992, “Lock All the Doors” musters enough energy to divert attention from Gallagher’s routinely duff lyrics. When that energy slumps, as on cod-psych dirge “The Girl with X-Ray Eyes”, the hollows behind Gallagher’s playground rhymes are clear to see even without X-ray vision.

Much else here settles into comfort-zone turf, whether it’s “Wonderwall”-via-Weller cast-off “Riverman”, anthemic arena-thumper “In the Heat of the Moment” or an under-inspired blues-rock repeat (“The Mexican”) of that very arena-thumper’s tune.

Parps of sax offer small nods to diversification, but the air of under-ambitious resignation weighs heavy on “You Know We Can’t Go Back”, a song so bland it practically begs for a Gary Barlow cover.

Johnny Marr’s input stirs Gallagher’s melodic energies for “Ballad of the Mighty I”, but by then the album’s over. As for any hope that Gallagher’s pique about modern music might spur him to offer engaging alternatives: that goes with it.