by: Elefante

Elefante's self-titled third album is also something of a debut. Four years after they conquered Mexico with "Asi Es la Vida" (a wry, rhumba-inflected breakup song that spent three months on the national Top Ten charts) and about a year after lead singer Reyli Barba quit to go solo, the members of the reconstituted quintet proved themselves undeterred in their mission to become, in the words of bass player Luis Alberto "Gordito Tracks" Pórtela, "the most important band in Mexico. Better than Molotov." Nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best Pop Album by a Group with Vocal category -- Molotov's own nomination was for Best Rock Album, and former frontman Barba also made the list with his solo hit, "Amor del Bueno" -- Elefante vindicated Elefante's insistence that their sound is the product of five musicians, not just one. But truth be told, new lead singer Jorge Martínez, formerly of a band from Ciudad Juarez called Caos, does share much of his predecessor's vocal range, sweetly husky timbre, and awe-inspiring Berlitz Language School diction. And with guitar player Rafael López continuing to shoulder most of the songwriting responsibilities, the album's 12 original tracks seem cut from the same quirky cloth as Elefante's previous hits. That's not a bad thing at all. Highlights include "Ven" and "Angel" -- two songs with grooves reminiscent of "De la Noche a la Mañana"; "Píntame de Azul," a straightforward ballad with a great melodic hook, reprised on a bonus track as a duet with Argentinean pop star Soledad; and "Mentirosa," a clear lyrical descendent of "Asi Es la Vida," only with enough flamenco guitar thrown in that, this time, the whole lover's quarrel seems to take place at a bullfight instead of a bar. Listening to them go at it, you can't help but wiggle your butt and shake your fist and hope that they'll keep on breaking up and getting back together forever, so that no Elefante fan will ever lack for a clever new way to say adios, baby. Hasta la próxima. ~ Jenny Gage

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