The Clean: Mister Pop

Clean_MisterPopKiwi legends resurface for a laid-back reunion LP

Thirty-one years after their formation, this Dunedin, New Zealand trio is still breathing life into original compositions. Their formation spurred the creation of the legendary Flying Nun label, they drifted apart, broke up and reformed a few times to release singles and EPs throughout the 1980s, and finally waxed their first full length, Vehicle, in 1990. The group’s career continued to be marked by dissolutions, side projects and occasional reunions for albums and tours (and live albums of tours), culminating in the 2-CD overview, Anthology, in 2003. This latest reunion album brings together the classic lineup of Kilgour, Kilgour and Scott back to the studio.

The DIY punk-rock and organ-driven pop of the band’s lo-fi 4-track works have been refined over the years, with properly recorded studio sessions that include chiming guitars and keyboard drones. Many of these new productions have a psychedelic (or at least lightly drugged) feel, including the Eastern inflected guitar of “Asleep in the Tunnel” and the thick, Pink Floyd styled instrumental raga “Moonjumper.” The bulk of “Are You Really on Drugs” and “In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul” are fashioned by repeating their titles as lyrics, the former hypnotizing in the manner of a long stare at ceiling tiles, the latter suggesting time for philosophical rumination. Their music is sinewy and muscular, modern but with the spark of their punk roots.

The Velvet Underground’s influence is heard in the monotone dispassion of “Back in the Day,” and a variety of instrumentals and instrumental backings include breathy female choruses, dark organ chords, folk-electronica and droning modernism that sounds like a garage rock version of Stereolab. The Clean has evolved organically from its late-70s roots but also taken in the second-hand influences of its members’ outside projects. You could draw a straight line back to the melodies of their earlier works, but they’re packaged here in slower tempo and trippier tones that are more thought-provoking than mere punk provocation. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul
MP3 | Tensile
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