Poor Del Amitri. I love them, I really do – best damn gig I ever went to was the final one for this album, Can You Do Me Good?
Maybe it’s just something about having a quirkly little band no one else ‘gets’… Whatever. Anyway, this isn’t their best album, but it has a horrible feeling of being their last, after the record company dropped them. Not mainstream, and not – it would seem – brave enough to go it without a record label. Oh well.
On to brighter notes, and while there is a rather dark and often melancholy feel to the album, there are still some gems. I happen to adore the opening track, Just Before You Leave, with it’s strong bass and Shaft-like moments. Lyrically, it’s very dark: “Don’t you cry / Cos you know that’s the one thing he hates?”, “Do you slap him just to see / If he hits you back or backs away?”
Forward a couple of tracks, and it’s a total flip to pop-a-go-go with Drunk In A Band. Fond memories of pogo-ing with some new friends who wouldn’t let me stop before the song finished! :)
Other highlights pick up Justin Currie’s usual preoccupation with the dangers of love. Buttons On My Clothes tells us how “She ain’t coming back”, while the bizarrely 60s-chirpiness of Out Falls the Past is lyrically a bit weak but I still like the sentiment of reputation coming back to haunt you!
Obsession plays a short theme: She’s Passing This Way is rather gentle musically, but the words are a warning of becoming entangled with a woman who you can only hope “Won’t desire you for just pulling apart”, leaving something of a group of devestated ‘junkies’ behind her. Can’t Wash Her Away is jaggedly dark, conjuring vivid pictures of destructive addiction. Total reversal from the rather beautiful melody of Baby, It’s Me – a song that both makes me long for “Someone with all that they want but nothing they need / Full of themselves but with a hole where you aren’t” and at the same time, if you listen too closely, makes you wonder how healthy – or how suffocating – this sweetness really is?
There are weak links in there. I pretty much have to skip Jesus Saves – the bitter, mocking lyrics I have no problem with, but it’s just a bit too jarring and loud. One More Last Hurrah and Last Cheap Shot At The Dream stray just a little into the prophetic self-pity to be comfortable. The only song that picks up the sentiment and plays it well is the closing Just Getting By, which is just beautifully sad.
All said, after a long gap it was always going to be good for the fans to hear those dulcent Glaswegian tones again. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was much here to convince non-fans; there’s not a great deal of similarity to previous hits or album tracks, and after being forced to wait a year between recording and release, there wasn’t a particularly fresh feel to the procedings. Perhaps if Drunk in a Band had been realeased as a single, the world could have glimpsed a different side to Del Amitri…