20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews The Clean’s Mister Pop by Irina Dvalidze
The Clean Releases First Studio Album in Eight Years

The Clean releases first studio album in eight years

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD The Clean’s “Tensile” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts

If anyone can call themselves pioneers, it has to be The Clean. These first-wave punks from New Zealand got their start in 1978. In order to help out then up-and-comers, one Clean fan started Flying Nun Records, which went on to become New Zealand’s biggest independent record company.

For decades, The Clean didn’t hit it too big in the States, despite their immense success in their homeland. Since then, however, these guys have gone through several periods of inactivity, college radio success and more than enough active band members.

It has been eight years since their last studio album. Fortunately, this year, they have finally succeeded in producing a record — even a pretty good one — in Mister Pop.

It’s whimsical, melodic and instantly addicting.  Relying generally on the acoustic instrumentals, The Clean incorporate lyrics out of mere necessity on most tracks. The vocals serve more as a relief for the strong repetitive beats that dominate throughout. The melodies in tracks “All Those Notes” and “Asleep” are warmly engulfing, and borderline serene.

Overall, the tracks possess an eerie, floating quality. The only way to properly describe Mister Pop is as a trippy lullaby.

The opener, “Loog,” and “Are You Really On Drugs?” are reminiscent of something you would have heard from The Velvet Underground. Channeling the exploration of human existence and dilemmas via simple one-liners and repetitive chords is an evident trademark stamped all over this release. It is simple, straightforward and inventive.

If Mister Pop is an example of what we can expect from The Clean, these indie veterans still have a lot of mileage left in them. Their sound is refreshingly contemporary, and up-to-date. Far from dated comeback wannabes, The Clean are sure to capture the U.S. indie music scene this time around.

– Irina Dvalidze

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