If the Clean were motivated by anything other than a seemingly pure love of music, Mister Pop would have been a very different album. Since the last time the band made a record, scores of new bands have discovered the awesome early work the Clean recorded back in the '80s and have incorporated the raw, scratchy, and energetic feel of those records into their sound. The group could have easily tried to capitalize on its newfound icon status and made an album that harked back to its early years. No one would have blamed them for cashing in; nobody would have begrudged them a few minutes of near fame. Instead, the band -- still the brothers Kilgour (David and Hamish) and Robert Scott -- have made a laid-back, hazy, and thickly psychedelic album that sounds more like something the band might have made in the '90s. This is not a bad thing at all, because while not as influential, they made very good albums during that era. The songs on Mister Pop range from dreamy pop ("Are You Really on Drugs?") to instrumental motorik jams ("Moonjumper") to folky meditations ("All Those Notes") and back to strummy pop ("Back in the Day"). It also contains at least two songs that would make it on a mythical Best of the Clean LP: "In the Dream Life U Need a Rubber Soul," a slice of modern pop so heavenly and sweet that it should be sent to Jeff Lynne as a lesson on how to make modern pop without over-sweetening; and the driving Krautrocker "Tensile," which features some nice vocodered vocals and a little bit of the texture of their early records. Apart from these standout tracks, it's a solid album that shows off the individual members' songwriting skills and holds together very well as a display of smart and savvy modern pop. If you're looking for the old Clean, you might be disappointed, but if you are looking for good Clean, Mister Pop will be just what you need.
Clean, the – Mr. Pop – New LP
First time on vinyl in the U.S.
Full-color printed dust sleeve
Includes digital download card
What can be said about The Clean? In 1978, they were the seeds of New Zealand, and as such, they carved out a big sandbox for everyone to play in. Their influence resonated not only in New Zealand but around the world. Not only do bands like Yo La Tengo, Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth, Pavement, and their ilk owe a debt to The Clean, but many of today’s young upstarts such as Times New Viking, Eat Skull, and a band from China called Carsick Cars have the Dunedin godfathers deeply etched into their DNA.
While Split Enz came first and hit bigger worldwide, one could argue that there would be no New Zealand rock scene as it is known today if it weren't for the Clean; the sainted Flying Nun label was formed to put out their debut single, their willingness to go the D.I.Y. route in recording their early material set the standard for any number of bands (Kiwi and otherwise), and their playful yet aggressive mixture of pop hooks, jagged guitar lines, neo-Velvets minimalism, and edgy wit paved the way for the Bats, the Chills, the Verlaines, the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, and a handful of other bands who helped New Zealand develop its own musical identity for the first time. Despite their importance and longevity, the Clean have never been especially well-served on record in the United States; their important early singles and EPs received little circulation in America, and their post-reunion albums have been only sporadically available, thanks to the collapse of several indie labels.