The Clean

Anthology (Merge)

If only all aspects of globalization spread the way the punk virus of the late '70s did, when rebellious creativity infiltrated every community with a radio and a pop-music tradition. All who wanted punk got it, and all who cared to remade it in their own image. New Zealand's the Clean basically founded post-punk's Kiwipop school, or at least its Dunedin chapter. Guitarist David Kilgour, drummer Hamish Kilgour and bassist Robert Scott were its Buzzcocks-meet-Television-in-a-garage midwives, responsible for birthing nearly every great New Zealand pop band of the past twenty years not starring a Finn brother or Chris Knox.

Yet the Clean's greatest contribution to the historical writ was the way its songs embraced punk's anything-is-possible essence instead of reducing all to generational disaffection. Wide-eyed life choices and noisy guitars leap off Anthology -- a two-CD set that includes every track off the trio's seminal early-'80s EPs (which, along with the Soft Boys, flipped the switch on pretty much all noisy hooks that followed), as well as a heaping helping of their fine '90s psychedelic ruminations. If you're looking for another twentysomething voice telling you how "anything could happen," you won't find a better one.

 
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