Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kara's Flowers - The Fourth World

Out-Of-Print (OOP) Re-issue

Hey! Here's a 4 1/2 star review for the 1997 album The Fourth World by Kara's Flowers that I wrote probably six years ago for the website RateYourMusic.com. And they say music criticism doesn't stand the test of time??

I'd heard the name Kara's Flowers mentioned in the same breath as a few of my other favorite bands; Weezer, Phantom Planet and AM Radio. But I never gave The Fourth World a chance, primarily because of the fact that the group later morphed into the bland commercial entity known as Maroon 5. But on a whim I decided to track this cd down for a close friend of mine who's a huge Maroon 5 fan. I burned a copy for myself just before I gave her the original, and finally I decided to play it just for the hell of it. My God, was I ever surprised when I heard it.

This is an incredible power pop album, made even more amazing by the fact that this band was still in high school when they recorded this. By all means please DO NOT pre-judge this album on the fact that these guys later went on to become Maroon 5. The only similarity between The Fourth World and the tepid Songs About Jane is the nasal croon of singer Adam Levine. Where the latter record is not much more than run-of-the-mill top 40 grist, The Fourth World is classic pop rock with psychedelic flourishes in the mold of the Beatles, Fountains of Wayne or Jellyfish.

The album's lead single "Soap Disco" made a minor splash on "alternative" radio when it originally was released, but the strength of this record really lies in its more ambitious moments like the gorgeous "Future Kid" or the epic "Captain Splendid". It's fruitless to try to summarize what makes these songs so special... It's not as though they are overwhelmingly unique or something. They are just catchy, well-played and exquisitely produced, with pristine vocals and layers upon layers of sound. There is a depth to the songwriting here that Maroon 5 sadly abandoned in their quest to sell a gazillion records.

Song for song, this is some of the most well-crafted and infectious pop rock I've heard in the last ten years. Forget for a moment what these guys later turned into, and take a chance on this cd. Chances are if you are a fan of great pop music, then you will be pleasantly surprised by what Kara's Flowers achieved.

Yeah, so anyways, not much has changed regarding my opinions on this record since I knocked that mini-review off back in 2005. It's still the same very catchy album of melodic alt-rock with twinges of Beatles and 80s ELO. And similarly, you'll probably still be amazed at how un-Maroon 5 everything sounds here. (Jellyfish fans, please note the presence of Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. on most of these cuts.) What else can I say except dig up some Kara's Flowers!


  1. Re-upped.

    Come on people, this album's awesome!

  2. Woah these guys went on to become Maroon 5? What the hell happened!!! This album is so good! David Bright

  3. Just discovered your site. Any chance of a re-up?
    Apropos of nothing, or maybe the J, this is a great collection of J-Pop and rock. Not my site.

  4. Thanks for the link... Looks like I have a lot of re-upping to do, but I will try to get this one in the queue as well. Thanks!