New Zealand’s answer to the Velvet Underground, The Clean was the prime mover in the fertile Flying Nun scene of the 1980s. The trio was well served by a Merge compilation a few years back, but their actual releases have been hard to find.
Captured Tracks has just released their long out-of-print first album, Vehicle, recorded in 1990 on a reunion tour that found the band at the peak of its powers. The studio sheen adds punch to these 13 tunes without sacrificing any of their woolly charms. The songs are catchy and taut, focusing on the band’s propulsive riffs while throwing in a few lovely strummed ballads. The album clocks in at a sleek 30 minutes and the reissue adds the excellent In-A-Live EP, which showcases ferocious live workouts of some of The Clean’s most beloved chestnuts. It’s one of the year’s most essential reissues.