ELEFANT Clichés aren’t bullshit when you mean them.
Elefant
Fri Aug 6
Dante's
1 SW 3rd

It's one thing to believe in love at first sight. It's stranger--as in the case of Elefant frontman Diego Garcia--to believe in it over and over again. He's perhaps the world's most hopeful romantic, flitting from mad crush to mad crush, believing that every other gal he sees could change his life.

"I find beauty in everyone," he says.

And oh, the lines this downtown New York guy uses. He tells one girl that she "tastes like candy." He begs another gal to, "Tell me your name, because I'm into it."

He explains to yet another, "I never meant to hurt you ... Come and play with me... Lose yourself."

How does this stuff even fly? It works because Garcia sings these lines with what sounds like complete sincerity. It works because you really want to believe him when he says, "Tonight we'll dance, like we're in love." Clichés aren't bullshit when you mean them.

Growing up with a mom and three little sisters, Garcia says, "allowed me to feel all right about expressing my feelings about girls and love. I think love is a beautiful thing, dangerous also. It's not always sugar."

Like a sort of Brit-pop-tinged hangover, Elefant sound like Interpol if Interpol spent all their time trying to get over a girl and find the next girl. Their album, Sunlight Making Me Paranoid, is all about chasing down that sugar high, on sweaty nights, in smoky rooms, atop balconies, in crowded streets--all the while knowing that heartbreak or self-destruction could come before the sun rises.

The thing about Garcia, though, is that he can be full of shit. For all his talk about everyday beauty, he dates models and hires a very specific Sports Illustrated kind for a video shoot.

He's performed wearing bright, clashing colors and enough makeup for Robert Smith and David Bowie to share--but sounds put off and a bit confused when I use the word "costume." He says he "hates hipsters and their bad haircuts," but a quick walk in Brooklyn will reveal a dozen guys with long hair who are trying to copy Garcia exactly.

But above all else, Garcia can get away with the clichés and contradictions because his music is goddamn good. The songs make you want to fall in love. As the climaxes build and Garcia's Jarvis Cocker-like whisper and wails take over, the drumbeats sound like the pitter-patter of a hopeful heart. And Garcia can preen as much as he wants (and he does), knowing he's got three other guys to hold things down while he poses. They're the best wingmen a guy on the make could ask for.