Dead to Me

African Elephants

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AllMusic Review by

After Dead to Me lead singer and founding member Jack Dalrymple moved on from music to pursue fatherhood full-time, the rest of the band continued on, taking three years to deliver a proper full-length follow-up to Cuban Ballerina. On African Elephants, the charmingly gruff vocal interplay between Dalrymple and second vocalist/guitarist Chicken is sadly absent, but replacement vocalist Nathan Grice picks up the slack aptly as the band's new frontman. The NOFX-influenced three-chord So-Cal punk aesthetic is still evident, especially in the quick-paced, hook-filled shout-along anthems "Modern Muse," "Nuthin Runnin Through My Brain," and "Fell Right In." Elsewhere, however, the band strays from the norm in the dub-infused Clash tributes "X" and "A Day Without War." Meanwhile, "Cruel World" and "California Sun" paint Dead to Me in a new jangly light, as clean-shaven balladeers. While these departures are a far cry from the typical zippy punk numbers that fans of Fat Wreck and One Man Army might expect, African Elephants marks a tasty new direction for the San Franciscan rockers. A few tracks fall short of the mark -- the Nirvana-aping "Blue" will probably disappoint fans -- but as a whole, even if the release lacks some of the fire that Cuban Ballerina possessed, it's exciting to see the band taking risks in its new incarnation.

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