After breaking up with the woman he expected to marry, Elia Einhorn, the leader of The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, retreated to a farmhouse in the small town in Wales where his late mother’s family lived and where he’d spent summers as a child. There, the Chicago-bred musician began writing the songs that make up the band’s third album, . . . And the Horse You Rode in On, out in September on Bloodshot Records.
The 15-song collection is a mini epic of bummed-out indie pop, filled with jangling guitars, rapturous string arrangements, horn fanfares, and morosely funny references to infidelity, betrayals, STDs, loneliness, and general disillusionment. “I wanted our music to be like [the 1980s ska band] the Specials, where within the song you’ve got 25 hooks happening and you can bring whatever you want to say through that door,” says Einhorn.
As a teenager, Einhorn was a punk rock fan who wore “a leather jacket with spikes and went to the No Exit Café,” but when he was younger, he also accompanied his father to open-mike performances at the Old Town School of Folk Music. His 12-string guitar strumming manages to find the common ground between the two genres as he ranges from the storming “Tear Down the Opera House” to the lushly orchestrated “Praying Is a Heartache.”
Einhorn’s blunt references to cheating (“Thoughts of him on top then you on top refuse to stop”) make one hunger for the juicy details, but he deflects the questions. “Some of the things I write about in this record are from actual experiences, and some are from watching breakups happen to other people,” he says. With these accounts, Einhorn emulates his biggest heroes, arch British rockers such as Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker. “They’re both neurotic and brokenhearted,” he observes, “and their relationships are so brilliantly detailed in the song.”
GO: The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir performs at the BLOODSHOT RECORDS BEER-B-Q Sept. 12th at the HIDEOUT. 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.; 773-227-4433, hideoutchicago.com