Which One’s Del?
by Darren Holmquist

As published in Rainsound - The Scottish Music Magazine

Misconception should be Del Amitri’s middle name. The biggest misconception is that there is no one named Del Amitri in the band. The other misconception is that they’re just another rock and roll band; or “pop” group as Justin Currie likes to say. They’re much more than that.

“Some Other Sucker’s Parade” is Del Amitri’s 5th album overall. Justin has said that in writing this album, he tried very hard to have nothing last longer that three minutes, to stay away from acoustic ballads, but still be a Del Amitri album. He succeeded. The new album is rich with electrically charged, great three minute songs. Each of the first seven songs on the album could be and should be great singles. They’re each that good.

Justin’s lyrics portray life and love as seen through everyone’s eyes, not just his own. While, Justin refuses to fess up to writing from personal experience, the songs sound profoundly and achingly personal. Written by Justin alone, or with the band’s co-founder Iain Harvey, the songs say things that we’ve all felt at one time or another; but have never spoken aloud. The lyrics spell out the shared responsibility in both broken love affairs, and strong love affairs. The songs express love, desire, and loss without being sappy, trite, or superficial. However, in today’s music market, that’s not necessarily a good thing; witness: Alanis Morissette. Del Amitri is about speaking the truth, and living with the consequences; about discovery, about realization.

That’s been Del Amitri’s point from the beginning. Go back and listen to “Kiss This Thing Goodbye” or “Always The Last To Know”. These songs highlight the need to be honest with one another. Being stuck in a relationship that has no future, does no one any good. It is truly better to ‘kiss this thing goodbye’ when you can, so that you’re not singing ‘you oughta know’ later on in life.

While it’s not past Justin to write a “You Oughta Know” type song. That’s just not what he’s trying to put forth. I’m sure he’d like to sell that many copies of one of his songs, but Justin has so much more insight than a 22 year old Alanis Morissette does. While Justin has been writing his brand of “pop music” for over a decade now, he has an insight into the frailty of relationships that is legendary among Del Amitri fans. Fans can parlay their feelings to one another via the songs. “I just need a ‘Downfall’ tonight.” or “I’ve been ‘driving with the brakes on’ all week.” The songs mean something. They describe how people feel about one another, and how they feel about themselves.

If this band is THIS good, why aren’t they known internationally as the biggest thing to come out of Scotland since... Hagus? It may be in the fact that there is no “star” in Del Amitri. All the big names these days are a person. Except perhaps Hanson, who are, literally, kids. Bands who used to be bands, are now Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam; or Bono and U2. Justin has strayed away from becoming the “star”. And this is to his credit. He values the well worn comfort of a band situation. And he seeks it out. Del Amitri lost their drummer and guitarist to other projects immediately after recording “Some Other Sucker’s Parade”. A hardship to be sure, but it’s also inherent in the 10 year history of Del Amitri. That’s the way it’s always been. Is it a drawback? Possibly. It cuts down on the familiarity factor. Maybe the new lineup will bring together the winning formula to change the public’s thinking about Del Amitri.

“Some Other Sucker’s Parade” is an album that Del Amitri can be proud of. It’s solid, insightful, beautiful, angry, loving, peaceful, and exciting all at the same time. If you have the inclination, don’t walk... run, and pick up your copy. You’ll thank me and Rainsound * The Scottish Music Club for telling you to do so.

© 1997 Darren Holmquist