Sound: After gathering good and bad comparisons of all kinds to the Strokes with their debut album Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid in 2003, NYC quartet Elefant are back with 11 new dynamic tracks and a creepy album title -- The Black Magic Show. Picking up a record with such a haunting title -you would expect something theatrical, mystic or at least very stylish. Unfortunately not all the records today give you a clue of what it is like inside, neither they always meet your expectations.
With an uncovered adoration of Mozza, Elefant fulfill their sophomore album with gloomy anthems. There are a lot of lower groovy guitars and minor keys that create a certain charisma. Despite it's depressive mood, the music is dynamic -- like, aggressive despair? Out of almost 40 minutes on The Black Magic Show only three and a half has a joyful ray of light. Upbeat Uh Oh Hello is the only happy-clappy sing-along with a bright melody and hard guitar riffs. A funky bass line going through the song to the end adds some it fun. The duality of the track makes is remarkable -- it's the best song on the record as well as the catchiest one. Other 10 tracks are pretty alike by sound, slightly different in arrangements.
Vladimir Nabokov's book about nymphet Lolita inspired artists of different ages and nationality. Diego Garcia (that wrote all songs to The Black Magic Show in his Argentina house) wasn't left aside -- the first single from the album Lolita tells you a bit of the story, featured by seductive lyrics Lola is on the floor/She's wanting more and those perverse sexy Ah-ah and Ooh-hoo. And there's that melody in the verses -- more like a gamma-exercise. The album grows on you, but up to a certain point. After that it gets annoying. // 6
Lyrics: The lyrics have that sort of an attitude -- they kind of pretend to be deep, but heck knows what it's about. Sometime the vocalist Diego Garcia throws in a really good line that promises some interesting follower, but right after that spoils everything some something cheesy and cliched (like in the title track where he first sings The freaks have come out tonight and then goes There's no difference between wrong and right -- this one was probably suffered out after torches to make a rhythm to tonight). Garcia sings with a deep emo voice, at times sticking in the yearning-like sounds. May I suggest it's the charms of his voice with commanding notes that keeps the band away from being called boring. // 6
Overall Impression: Being produced by Don Gilmore (Dashboard Confessional, Linkin Park), The Black Magic Show is too polished and recalls to different associations too often -- as if the produces tries different looks (sounds) to the band, searching for what suits then best (makes then more popular). It's like why invent a bicycle when everything's already invented by somebody else? This might work out, but not when a band pretends for originality. Most of the tracks and sounds on The Black Magic Show remind you of something that you've heard before. Long ago... like... in '80s. Suede, The Smiths, The Strokes, The Cure -- it's all in there. That's the weak point of too many modern bands -- being inspired by the music of their childhood, they forget to add personality, pearling with clichs one after another. Sorry, guys, we still remember about the veterans of new-wave!
The Black Magic Show won't make a revolution in your heart, neither would it courage you to change the world (rather to spend another evening on a comfy sofa with a beer). But it may well fit your collection of random CDs as it's quite a tolerable pop album. // 6
- Kosh (c) 2006