Only the Dark

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2020
Original album - Hotspot
Producer - Stuart Price
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

To be honest, I don't think there are many PSB songs that I would describe as offering "words of comfort." Yet that's precisely what "Only the Dark" does as its narrator provides comforting wisdom that restates the old "Every cloud has a silver lining" chestnut in a particularly poetic manner. Conversely, however, it's derived from a track composed by Chris that he had titled "Distraught" because, as he put it, "I must have been feeling distraught at the time." The Boys recall that it was the first track they wrote in Berlin at the start of the Hotspot sessions.

The type of darkness initially described in the song is of the harmless, romantic variety as the narrator and his lover sit alone together as the darkness of evening envelops their home:

Let's not turn on the light
It feels so good to be
Just the two of us

Of course, they know that this darkness is natural and temporary: "It's not gonna last, so let's enjoy the night." But they also know that not all darkness is as welcome and fleeting. There are other types of darkness in this world, darkness that can inspire dread. Nevertheless, our narrator offers wisdom and comfort:

Don't be scared
For only the dark
Can show you the stars

While in the context of the song he's speaking directly to his lover, he might just as well be addressing a friend who has undergone a traumatic experience that has caused him or her to grow cold and lock out others. And, needless to say, he's addressing us, his listeners, as well. His message is actually somewhat profound: it's the dark night of the soul (to use the famous phrase coined by the the 16th-century Christian mystic St. John of the Cross) that can make you ready to emerge from the depths of depression—especially if someone is there to help pull you through.

I'll be there
The moment the dark
Reopens your heart

The narrator assures his lover, "You're all I want. It's all that I need to be here with you. And so let's hold on to this." This darkness is to be embraced as a precious part of life. While you certainly can't say that all darkness is precious, it too may need to be embraced in order to make the most of it, whatever it may bring. And whatever the case, it will pass. The sun will shine again—and with it comes the affirmation of life.

I don't think you need reminding
We both know what it means to be alive

Darkness and light: two phases of a perpetual cycle that not only makes life possible, but makes it precious.


—as a prime example of Neil's consummate skill as an imaginative and highly creative lyricist. "Two of us" and "superfluous" are by no means what would traditionally be regarded as a "perfect" rhyme, but it's perfect in this song.


Officially released

List cross-references