DEAD TO ME: African Elephants: CD

Jan 12, 2010

This album was a comedown after the Little Brother EP. After spending some time with it and seeing the new Jack Dalrymple-less three-piece lineup of Dead To Me live, I am warming up to this CD though. One of my initial criticisms is that it’s just not possible to replace Jack in the vocals department. This isn’t a slight against guitarist Nathan stepping up to the mic to throw in lead vocals alongside Chicken, so much as it is a tribute to the strength of Dalrymple’s singing. He has one of those great punk voices, like Jeff Pezzati, that can make a song almost on its own. Secondly, the sequencing of the CD kinda throws the flow off right away because of the dubby, protest track “X” that starts it off. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it’s way different from anything that comes after, because of the slower reggae beat and organ going on, and is therefore an awkward start to the album. I would also say my final complaint is that there’s a flatness to the production on a lot of the album that holds back some of the songs. I noticed this mostly when I saw that band play recently. Some of the songs that I didn’t really pay attention to when I first heard them, really hit home on the stage, like “Cruel World,” “Nothing Runnin’ through My Brain,” and “Fell Right In.” (By the way, DTM is still amazing live, see them every chance you get.) After a few listens, a nice contrast becomes apparent between Nathan’s more personal lyrical style and Chicken’s political themes. That keeps a tension in the flow of the album that partially makes up for the sameness that happens in a couple of the stretches. So, in conclusion, this isn’t as great as their near-perfect Little Brother EP, but this album is a grower, and is moving closer to Cuban Ballerina in my estimation. Not bad at all for the initial effort after a pretty radical regrouping.

 –todd (Fat)