Kara's Flowers

Fourth World

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With Ryan Dusick on percussion, Jesse Carmichael on guitar and vocals, Mickey Madden on bass, and Adam Levine on guitar and lead vocals, L.A.-based Kara's Flowers delivers a debut that's a fine example of alternative rock in the late '90s. With Levine's sexy, expressive voice, tight productions, and strong songwriting, the band steers clear of the angst most groups of the time made points of driving home with dreary, self-absorbed determination. Kara's Flowers does take a bit of the darkness from grunge, but the boys also know not to take themselves too seriously -- they seem to know it's OK not to be so angry. That translates into smart songs with welcome pop sensibilities that are immediately accessible without ever being too slick. In fact, the songs are so perfectly pop-oriented that they may sound familiar whether you've heard them before or not. This is not to say they're unoriginal or uninteresting -- they're just so well-crafted that they feel immediately comfortable. The band tackles its material with an élan and an assurance that belie its youth. "Soap Disco" and "Oliver" are just two of the potent songs on an album that, at only 11 cuts, seems criminally short.

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