Dead to Me | African Elephants (Fat Wreck Chords)

Dead to Me deserves props for pushing forward and trying to find their new voice.

Dead to Me’s latest album, African Elephants, is the San Francisco group’s sophomore release on Fat Wreck Chords. Jack Dalyrmple’s (who recently became a father but remains a member of the band) vocals are an obvious omission from the album but the band does a decent job of trying to keep the spirit of Dead to Me alive. The second track, "Modern Muse," is probably the song that will best remind listeners of Cuban Ballerina, the record that made us fall in love with them.

Further into African Elephants, the music tends to veer away from classic Dead to Me and into newer, more experimental territory. "X," "A Day Without a War," and "California Sun" have a sound that would make Joe Strummer and The Clash proud, while "Liebe Liese" brings bi-linguistics and woo-oohs into the mix. The only song that seems completely out of place is the closer, "Blue." It sounds like a mid-nineties grunge piece — lyrically and musically. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the tracks, throwing the album’s cohesion out of whack.

After spending a week with African Elephants, I can admit that it didn’t grab my attention the way Cuban Ballerina did. That being said, I can appreciate how hard it must be to release an album without the founding vocalist. Dead to Me deserves props for pushing forward and trying to find their new voice. B- | Nicole Madden

RIYL: One Man Army, The Clash

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