Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., April 4, 2003
The CleanAnthology (Merge) New Zealand will never get old. It's a natural wonder: mystical, mysterious. Just like the Clean, founding fathers of New Zealand's revered music scene. Getaway (2001) was the latest installment of a career that began in 1981 with "Tally Ho," recorded for a meager $60. "Tally Ho" was also ground zero for Flying Nun Records, the epicenter of a Kiwi rampage that has produced truckloads of stirring lo-fi pop, jangly post-punk, and potent psychedelia over the last 22 years. Flying Nun, and Merge in the U.S., have assembled a sorely needed overview of the Clean's career, compiling their scarce early 7-inches and EPs on disc one of this 2-CD talisman of power. The primitive organ jig of "Tally Ho" and "Beatnik" are classic psyche pop, while the sandblasted vortex of "Point That Thing" and "At the Bottom" foreshadow not only spacey New Zealanders Bailter Space and the Dead C, but all of British shoegaze. Disc two kicks off with melodically rousing masterpieces like "Drawing to a Whole" and "The Blue," highlights of 1990's concisely powerful Vehicle. Anthology then meanders into the rainy-day pop of the Clean's last two Nineties albums. David and Hamish Kilgour and Robert Scott have paved legacies with the Bats and Bailter Space respectively, but when united as the Clean, they channel a musical energy that's as fun and pleasant as a hobbit, yet as eldritch and mystical as Gandalf the Gray.