Ninja Ninja Fight Darth Vader

Following on the heels of its recent EP, “You’re Not Alone,” KC power-pop quartet The Sexy Accident makes a strong showing with “Ninja Ninja Fight Darth Vader,” the band’s fourth and best release so far. While the 11 songs here don’t mark any radical shift from prior output, this batch of tracks plays remarkably to the band’s strengths.

The first track, “Love Doesn’t Get Old,” is pleasant enough, but the album picks up steam with “What We’d Do,” which is smoldering with a pent-up sexiness that’s more longing than lecherous. Sonically, there’s a cool glossiness, a trait present throughout the record, and some pretty great reverb-and-wah guitar that nicely sets off the song’s relatively spare rhythm.

The bass clarinet flourishes in “Under Summer Stars,” and vocals from singers Jesse Kates and Camry Ivory make a near 180-degree turn into a sweetness that’s evocative but not so sentimental that it feels saccharine.

“Sauvignon Blanc” rocks in a very Cars-ish fashion that’s hard to dislike, even if the chorus is just a touch … upscale. Given that it’s the closest thing to a misstep to be found on “Ninja Ninja Fight Darth Vader,” it’s remarkable.

The Sexy Accident is lean and focused but adept at opening songs up with a massive chorus when it’s called for, as on “Welcome Home.” While Bill Clinton’s woes may not be on anyone’s mind these days, “Monica” recounts his now-historic dalliance with Ms. Lewinsky cleverly, using humor and disarming sympathy.

The remainder of the songs keep up with the high bar set early on. Also worth mentioning is that the production, helmed again by Steve Fisk and recorded at Westend, is nearly impeccable. The band clearly worked hard at honing arrangements. Nice touches — a Mellotron here, a baritone guitar there, clever use of effects — recur throughout, giving plenty of detail to be uncovered with repeat listening and without overwhelming or cluttering the songs.

Rounding out the record is the somewhat nostalgic and irresistibly upbeat “You’re the Reason Why,” about an adolescent sweetheart. The closing title track, two minutes of spazzy fun featuring Kates’ son, Tobias, is almost painfully cute. The Sexy Accident is living up to the potential the band has more than hinted at.

For fans of intelligent, sweet and occasionally sexy pop, this album comes highly recommended. Also a must for fans of ninjas fighting Darth Vader.

- J Howell, INK

Easily the best thing I've heard from this Kansas City outfit. What were once modestly-disjointed indie pop throbs have become well-crafted rock jaunts. The tendency to run to tangent is intact, but the central themes of the songs simply hold together better.

In short, the Sexy Accident has found the root of "cool." These generally understated songs loop and circle around, always retaining just the right level of distance. Perhaps another way to look at this is that I've finally caught up with the band's inherent eccentricities.

And then every once in a while there's a song like "Sauvingnon Blanc," which reminds me a lot of The Hungry Mind Review (of Wilmington, N.C., one of the lost great pop bands). The song never quite kicks into overdrive, and the hook sets like a soft caress.

It's always fun to hear a band grow and get better over the years. Another step forward like this and the Sexy Accident should be getting attention from the big leagues.

- Jon Worley, Aiding & Abetting