Opening with a minor chord strummed on an acoustic guitar somewhere off in the distance, Noel Gallagher's second solo album, Chasing Yesterday, echoes Oasis' second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? -- a conscious move from a rocker who's never minded trading in memories of the past. He may be evoking his Brit-pop heyday -- "Lock All the Doors" surges with the cadences of "Morning Glory" even as it interpolates David Essex's "Rock On" -- but it amounts to no more than a wink because Gallagher knows he's two decades older and perhaps a little wiser as well. Certainly, Chasing Yesterday is the work of a musician very comfortable with his craft. Like the first album from High Flying Birds -- a largely anonymous group of pros who make no attempt to steal the spotlight from their leader -- it moves deliberately, never rushing and rarely rocking, preferring to find pleasure in majesty instead of hedonism. Where 2011's HFB kept things a shade too calm -- its reserve almost seemed like a rebuke to the messy id of Gallagher's brother -- Chasing Yesterday occasionally threatens to actually rock, delivering that signature wall of guitars on the aforementioned "Lock All the Doors," mustering up a bit of old-fashioned, cowbell-driven glam boogie on "The Mexican," and quickening the tempo on "You Know We Can't Go Back," a piece of incandescent pop that plays as a resigned companion to "Step Out." Better still, the self-styled epics -- which include the first single "In the Heat of the Moment" and closing "Ballad of the Mighty I," which features grace notes from a guesting Johnny Marr -- pulsate with quiet color, as does "Riverman," a signature piece of stately late-period Beatles pop that would've been drained to grey on HFB. Here, "Riverman" breathes and sighs, taking a moment to slide into a saxophone-accentuated guitar solo straight out of a pre-punk 1976, and this masterful flair is a testament to the control and focus Gallagher displays on Chasing Yesterday. He's not racing after the past, nor is he afraid to seem floridly fussy: he's reveling in his ascendency to the position of one of rock's wise old men.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine