gonna do some track-by-track Thoughts on the new mtn goats. tag is #gothongoths. i know goth much better than i know the mtn goats (i’m mostly acquainted with their post-sunset tree stuff) which is maybe valuable? or i have a huge head?
“Rain in Soho.”
goth level: 7/10 bats
the most driving track on the record. four-on-the-floor kick drum and a cycling piano progression carry the first verse. darnielle is accompanied by himself, in multiple overdubs, and the nashville symphony chorus, who nail down the song’s overarching concern — “no.” — with thunderous harmonies. between the chorus and the colossal drum fills, “rain in soho” musically echoes sisters of mercy’s floodland: specifically, the record’s opening tracks “dominion/mother russia” and “flood I.” [sort of] contrary to the avclub review that mourned the lack of darnielle’s guitar, a distorted electric guitar gradually asserts itself starting with the first chorus.
each verse is a list of negations, no one no one no one and nothing. they imply conflict (”no haven safer than the one they tore down”), loss (”no friends closer than the ones we’ve lost”), and triumph (”no sweeter pleasure than to see the credits clear through to the end”) but in toto the song plays like an elegy for the ~spirit of goth music.
“no one knows when the batcave closed,” darnielle sings, and if you google “when did the batcave close,” no one does seem to know, exactly. it was probably not even a discrete venue, but a night at a club.
characteristically for a darnielle lyric, fact-checking is secondary to the effect of the metaphor: the batcave, as synecdoche for the likeminded loose group of young people in early-80s london, faded. its influence diffused into everything that came after, but it simply faded away. not immaterial here is the obvious smiths reference in the lines beginning “there’s a club where you’d like to go.”
“how soon is now?” is from 1985, which some have pegged as the last year the batcave was open. morrissey’s “you could meet somebody who really loves you” — slightly arch and overheated — is rendered here as “you could meet someone who’s lost like you.” morrissey might well have written that, but he was concerned with the surface of sadness, the appearance of it, turning it literary and insular and distant. and bitchy.
“rain in soho” is stylistically elusive, with lines in slippery second-person address, but its impact is direct. “fumble through the fog through a season or two,” darnielle sings. the lifespan of a music scene, or a romance, or both.