Dead To Me – African Elephants

December 15, 2009

Dead To Me - African ElephantsTitle: African Elephants
Artist: Dead To Me
Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Released: November 2009
In one word: Ambitious

I’m a Dead To Me fan, I’ll be totally honest about this, in fact they’re probably my favourite new band and I’ve gone as far as seriously considering getting a DTM tattoo; that’s how much I love them.

African Elephants is not Cuban Ballerina or even Little Brother, it’s a totally different entity and marks a new stage in the bands career where Death To Me have lost founding member Jack Dalrymple to fatherhood and in his departure Nathan Grice has come to the front to display his vocal abilities.

I found it hard to get into at first because I’m a DTM fan because of Dalrymple and it was always going to be a big transition for the band to move on with a new lead vocalist. Grice’s voice is a mere shadow of Dalrymple’s which just sears emotion. Grice still has his moments but its not the same.

The sound of the record is weaker and smaller than before, with only one guitarist and notably different production qualities. DTM had no intention on recording the same record twice and African Elephants is definitely a departure from 2008’s EP Little Brother. A bit less grit, a bit more pop sentiment.

Chicken’s voice is improving, “Leibe Liese” is probably my favourite of his tracks. “Modern Muse” is Chicken at his poppy best, while “Tierra Del Fuego” is a surprisingly melodically mature song which shows us there’s a lot more to come.

Grice has too many ideas in his head, he seems brimming with enthusiasm and all these different songs coming out at the same time – you can’t knock him for his creativity.

“Nuthin Runnin Through my Brain” sounds like Milo Goes to College Descendents: it’s fast, simple, poppy and utterly pessimistic. “Bad Friends” is also a really good tune, it’s a bit like early Alkaline Trio but deeply personal like Cuban Ballerina – “I Dare You” is a bit like Alkaline Trio too.

“California Sun” is a terrific tune, a summer song about forgetting past love and leaving behind pain. It’s probably the best song on the record and has perfect placement on the album between two tracks of pounding punk rock where for one minute you just smile.

“Blue” is the only song on the record I don’t like, it sounds like a Nirvana B-side and like pretty much everyone else I love Nirvana but their B-Sides are pretty forgettable.

African Elephants is definitely Nathan’s record, it’s telling us he’s here and get fucking used to it which is hard to take in at first but after giving it all a good listen I find myself warming to the change. I found this record ambitious and hard to get into it but I think they pulled it off without a doubt.

© Danny Crombie

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