In a flurry of black smoke and dark cloaks, Virginia’s Andy Deane has once again swept in to serve as the emissary of goth. Deane is a busy little dark angel these days, dabbling in photography and churning out four horror novels (one is about werewolves and I will be reading it ASAP), but more than likely you will know him from his other musical project.
Bella Morte paved the way – or lit the candles on the altar if you prefer – for the darkwave and gothic rock reprisal of the late 90s and now Deane is at it again – this time under the guise of synthpop. The Rain Within released their first EP Dark Drive in 2016, and now they have given us the moody and operatic Atomic Eyes.
From its first pulse, this album had me in its thrall. Opening track “Like the Devil” takes you by the hand and leads you down a dark spiral staircase to a dimly-lit room that smells strongly of palo santo. “The quiet dark is all I need,” Deane croons, before the song builds to a catchy-yet-ominous chorus. (I challenge you to not get this one stuck in your head for days – “smiling like the devil,” indeed.)
Dark figures await you down there, but, surprisingly, rainbow lights puncture the gloom and everyone is boogying. This sensual goth rave ensues for a large portion of the one-hour album. “Dividing Line,” “Realign,” and “Fear, Lies, and Love” are all remarkably danceable: the 80’s are alive and well for these tracks. Deane’s classical voice training shines as he delivers soaring lines of desperation like “hope the stars will realign and guide me to another life” as well as low-voiced sultry curses like “everything from below is destroying us.”
The mood switches on the titular “Atomic Eyes,” slowing to a strobing groove appropriate for driving the night streets of a rainy city. In fact, that is exactly what Deane’s lyrics invite you to do: “Drive into the storm, into the fire, into the neon lights.”
We dive even deeper on “Nothing Here, Nothing There,” Deane’s vocals dropping to the low end of his range, accompanied by the lovely tinkle of solitary piano notes. It’s a doomy power ballad moment on the album, allowing a break from dancing, and I can already see the cigarette lighters and cell phones held aloft when this is performed live.
The lovelorn “Home” is tragically beautiful, with Deane’s voice emanating pain as he repeats the mantra: “I am alone with a thousand moments that didn’t matter.”
We recover with the up-tempo tracks “Rain” and “While I Am Here,” bringing back a ghost of the dancey vibes while offering macabre-yet-reassuring sentiments. “Bring on the rain, this too shall pass and fade away,” Deane both laments and triumphs, “I don’t mind if this world forgets me when I’m gone just as long as I have your love while I am here.”
“Midnight” takes us to a Daft Punk place with its electronic vox effects, and Deane’s vocals are heartachingly lovely on the tender and aptly named “Small Precious Lights.”
The final two tracks serve as the perfect comedown. “Violet Glow” features gunshot sound effects, powerful layered vocals, and climactic lyrics, bringing the end credits up with the sweeping line “at the dawning of the day, I wash it all away and start anew.” The piano notes fade into the 5-minute-plus instrumental closer “Android Hearts,” and I am left thinking that Deane would do a bang-up job scoring movies if he ever became bored with his current menagerie of projects.
In short, you’re definitely going to want to light some black candles for this, but some glitter and neon lights should also be incorporated. It’s a journey and it tells a story, from heartache to redemption. You will dance and you will cry. You will ponder mortality. There are moments that call to mind everything from arcade games to modern sci-fi movie soundtracks to opera, making it hard to place this album into a timeframe. Fans of dark electronic acts like Depeche Mode and Cold Cave will rejoice, as well as those who enjoy the lighter electro moments of Erasure and Pet Shop Boys. But be warned: these songs will get into your head and stay there. And that is surely the highest praise.
Purchase the album here.