Disco’s protege: Dante Elephante fails to find its forte

Mid-century modern was a style of American design known for its simplicity. The album “Mid-Century Modern Romance,” however, forcibly creates depth by an unwelcomed and contrived comparison to interior design in its title that is never mentioned again.

“Mid-Century Modern Romance,” the fourth album by the band Dante Elephante, was released on Friday, Jan. 8. Although the name creates an expectation of profundity, the lyrics do not meet that expectation, especially compared to the skillful quality of the electronic music production with instrumentals that is the redeeming factor. 

The first track, “Find Somebody to Love,” sets the tone with a mellow sound offset by jazzy trumpets, strings and drums that makes this song pleasant to listen to, as long as one ignores the nonsensical lyrics. 

First, Dante Elephante portrays a flighty man, singing “you know I’ve always wanted you, but my heart changes all the time.” Then, he seems to encourage the object of this song to get over him, asking her to “don’t stay at home waiting all alone, go find love, you’ve got time.” However, in the next section, the attitude is completely reversed as he becomes unbearably egocentric. “Don’t let your eyes deceive,” he sings, “I’m home now but not for long.” For the remainder of the song, Dante Elephante tries to undo the first few verses, creating an inconsistent mess.

Since there is the word “romance” in the title, it can be argued that the confusion is meant to be a commentary about the confusing nature of love and relationships. Even if that is true, this song has done nothing more than to hide behind a trite sense of quality brought on by the excellence of its backing track. 

The next song, “Jeni,” continues infuriatingly the same. The rhythmic opening, especially when the strings come in, serves only as a reminder of the potential this album had to be exceptional. This song, written about his girlfriend Jeni, was sweet if not a bit cliche with lyrics like “I met a girl downtown last night, I had to get her in my life.” But it seems that it was not meant to last, for in the middle of the repetition of “Jeni, you’ve been on my mind,” Dante Elephante threw in an illogical line he must have only used for the rhyme. “Hit my face and hit my pride,” he sings, “I know a bar where you can smoke inside.”

In “Las Vegas,” Dante Elephante experiments with different sounds, creating an uptempo piece that sounds like a mix between disco and modern electronic dance music (EDM). Dante Elephante’s vocal talent is also shown as he sings the lyrical melody effortlessly with its high notes. Although there’s no allegory beyond what the title suggests, which is a drive to Las Vegas, this song is catchy and appealing. 

All in all, to Dante Elephante, music seems like a passion project. He has fun with the structure of the songs and sings about what he loves, like his girlfriend and Las Vegas. However, this simplicity in its inspiration meant that his lyrics were unexciting and betrayed the merit of his music production. 

At the beginning of the album, Dante Elephante attempted to justify the plainness of his lyrics by naming his album after a plain style of American architecture. But unlike its counterpart, who hides art in the unadorned lines of its design, there is nothing artistic about “Mid-Century Modern Romance.”

By Cathy Li, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Album of The Year

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