3.5 stars out of 5
Many folks on this side of the Atlantic only know the long-running Scottish band Del Amitri due to their massive hit single “Roll to Me,” a song that scaled the American and British charts in 1995. However, that success came some 25 years ago, overshadowing the fact that they’ve sold six million albums throughout their on-again career. Nearly 20 years have passed since the release of the band’s last studio effort, Can You Do Me Good. That’s a considerable length of time in a fickle music biz that celebrates current darlings but that quickly discards those who came before.
The challenge then for Del Amitri has been to reclaim their former glories, to create songs that match the rousing, resonant melodies of their earlier efforts. That’s no simple task. They could come off sounding like they’re trying too hard, a move that would surely alienate some fans. With the ominous new album title, Fatal Mistakes, it’s clear that the band recognizes the risks, yet they forge ahead anyway.
Happily, they rise to the challenge, and while there’s no single song as immediately catchy as “Roll to Me,” several do stand out. The opening track, the appropriately dubbed “You Can’t Go Back,” is the most impressive of all, an assertive launching pad that paves the way for the driving, determined offerings that follow. Still, it’s not all optimistic. “I’m So Scared of Dying” may boast an emphatic edge, but it hints at a fear and a vulnerability that are impossible to ignore. “Lonely” hints at the same, while the solemn “Second Staircase” comes across as a brooding ballad that caps the earlier momentum.
Ultimately then, Fatal Mistakes reflects a dueling perspective, one that recognizes the difficulty of maintaining a certain standard but that is determined to reach new goals. The fact that Del Amitri succeed as well as they do is a testament to both their confidence and their talent.