Given the sheer quantity and quality in the past five years of bands emerging from the dark corners of the US underground who are obviously influenced by The Clean, if there were ever a Clean Fest featuring the NZ heroes and their many talented fans it might just be the best festival ever.
It would obviously be the best festival ever if The Clean had made albums as good as Vehicle since its release 20 years ago. Nonetheless, Mister Pop is a very good album – at least as good as 1994’s Modern Rock and better than subsequent efforts – which on tracks like Factory Man match Robert Scott’s pure pop sensibilities with David Kilgour’s gift for jaggedly direct guitar rhythms.
The experimentation that bedevilled 1996’s Unknown Country (the only of their albums to steer well clear of) is indulged on Moonjumper and Simple Fix, but I regard these as sacrificial lambs next to the psychedelic inventiveness and arresting originality of songs like In The Dream Life U Need A Rubber Soul and Are You Really On Drugs.
The most consistent work by The Clean’s two principal songwriters since Vehicle has come in Scott’s Bats and Kilgour’s solo works. I’d take The Bats’ Guilty Office and Kilgour’s Falling Debris albums from the past 12 months over Mister Pop, for example, but I’d take Mister Pop over most other albums in the same period.
The nearest thing there’ll be to a Clean Fest is when Pavement curate ATP next year. If The Clean, whose dissonant chimes and leftfield melodic bite can be heard strongly throughout Pavement’s back catalogue, and at least a few of the many current bands in their debt aren’t included on the bill I’d be very surprised.