J Church - Society Is A Carnivorous Flower (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

J Church

Society Is A Carnivorous Flower (2004)

No Idea

I feel a bit sorry for J Church, for upon their emergence from a lengthy hiatus they unleashed a very similar monster to the one from that other prolific 90s pop-punk act, albeit to far less attention. I'm talking the Rock Opera, which Lance Hahn and company deliver in fine form on the 15-minute multiple-movement politically charged epic "Society Is A Carnivorous Flower." While the release dates clearly prove J Church was first out the gate, I'm quite sure we'll get the "this is just ripping off Jesus Of Suburbia" quip soon enough.

In reality this is all in the tradition of what Pete Townshend got rolling in the 60s, although far closer in breadth to "A Quick One, While He's Away" than it is to Tommy. "Society" deviates from the tradition in that it's not quite a cohesive narrative, but is rather tied together thematically: It's a tale of urban alienation and class war filtered through a lens of sexual frustration (so a tad more serious than Ivor the engine driver). Fortunately despite its length the track never loses its focus or energy and makes an all around enjoyable listen. With this as the jewel in the crown, J Church's sixth full length is a fine half hour of inspired, passionate punk rock.

Leading up to the main attraction are six tight examples of J Church's characteristically frantic punk-pop, sure to please fans of their output in the 90s. One of the most frequent complaints about the band's preceding record was that One Mississippi, packed with 26 tracks, was too much to take in at once. Anyone of that opinion should be very pleased with the brevity of this record then, as the songs (title track excepted of course) fire by without overstaying their welcome and are quite engrossing while they last. Hahn remains a remarkably literate songwriter (his attack on elitist college music nerds is golden: "You worship Nico/You spit on Yoko") and both he and David DiDonato go above and beyond with the guitar work on the record. Society may be a bit more rough hewn than some of the band's past work, but the busy, looser sound fits the band better than big production would have.

Despite the grandeur and ambition of its title track, Society Is A Carnivorous Flower doesn't carry the self-important baggage of some of this year's high-profile releases, and for that alone it's worth checking out. I'm happy to say that the 2004-model J Church have delivered quite a satisfying little punk rock record.