Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Clean

  • The Clean Compilation [Homestead, 1988] B+
  • Vehicle [Rough Trade, 1990] A-
  • Unknown Country [Flying Nun, 1996] Dud
  • Anthology [Merge, 2003] ***
  • Mister Pop [Merge, 2009] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Clean Compilation [Homestead, 1988]
These Maureen Tucker fans recorded their entire output six or seven years ago in a New Zealand that considered Split Enz the cat's pyjamas, so no wonder they went for simplicity. Give them credit for some funny moments, like the doc who takes his shot before he gives you yours, but don't expect much in the way or words, because there aren't many. What they care about is droning guitar jams. Allotted a concept notch for knowing they were a groove band. Entire Lyric of Very Nice Farfisa Theme: "Tally ho, tally ho." B+

Vehicle [Rough Trade, 1990]
Sporadic semipros in an Anglo enclave so remote it evades ordinary patterns of formal exhaustion, these three New Zealanders are garage Velvets--even their "eclectic" folk-rock delicacy and speed-pop buzz make the connection. Fortunately, they're too tasteful to pretend they're jaded when they're not--10 years after their first burst there's still a boyish strain about them. And if I remain utterly suspicious of garage exotica, I'm a proud sucker for this quick, hard, flat, lyrical sound--professional no, clean and how. A-

Unknown Country [Flying Nun, 1996] Dud

Anthology [Merge, 2003]
Began crude and ended tired like most mortals, but for two-thirds of these two CDs, they were dronin'! ("Beatnik," "Two Fat Sisters (Live)"). ***

Mister Pop [Merge, 2009]
Too young for '60s nostalgia, so old nobody can tell ("In the Dream Life U Need a Rubber Soul," "Factory Man"). **