“You finally take your makeup off, I like your eyes. You finally take your lipstick off, I like your smile.”
So simple, yet so undeniably sexy. Hear this line once and you’ll have the urge to hear it again. It would maybe be better to hear it from a flesh-and-blood person, but listening to vocalist Diego Garcia croon on record gets the job done. On his band’s debut album, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid, Garcia, along with guitarist Mod, bassist Jeff Berrall and drummer Kevin McAdams, combine rejection and desolation with an oh-so European sexiness that entices to the point that the lack of originality can almost be overlooked.
This lack of originality plagues most new bands. Following the Cure’s clear-cut recipe, Elefant’s music can be appreciated for what it represents but deplored for its “stay inside the lines” mentality. Think mesmeric bass lines, charmingly seductive lyrics, occasional guitar rumbles, and slightly detached vocals.
Why, then, can I not stop listening to the album? This isn’t a case of guilty pleasures; that implies a connection with something outside the mainstream, and this is about as mainstream as it gets. It is because Elefant slightly douses its music with an allure that hooks you, a sex appeal that creeps up behind you whenever Garcia throws out lines about drives by beaches or childhood dreams.
“Misfit,” the album’s gem, takes off from where previous track “Now That I Miss Her” ends, opening with a typical guitar hook that still manages to tempt and will still be playing in your head hours later. Mod’s guitar creates both black and white space, forcing you to fill in the empty areas. Just as Jack White alters his accent whenever he pleases, Garcia, a Detroit native with Argentinean parents, evokes a European glamour while seducing with images of poems written on the back of a shoulder. The dance beat that propels this track forward is nothing new, yet does it really matter?
Stick around for the duration of the album, and you’ll find that even the closer “Ester” can surprise. A touching pop song, Garcia’s voice is more forthcoming than on any other track, relying lost love with lines such as “And the way I tried to win you / I was being young.” Interspersing “doo-doos” between verses, the track lacks the edge other tracks have, yet uses bittersweet to its advantage.
Elefant’s advantage over other bands isn’t clear cut, and imitations don’t stand a chance when compared to the originals. But the band jumps higher than its peers, adding more personality than its bland contemporaries. With an arsenal of allure, Elefant is hard to resist; Garcia’s tantalizing lines may even force you to take off your makeup or lipstick.