Since 1978, the New Zealand alt-rock band The Clean has intermittently popped out of its Dunedin home with another EP or LP of spacey songs, constructed from vapor and vibration. Then the trio vanishes again, killing time with solo albums and side projects until they feel the evolutionary tug to reunite and record again. The band’s latest, Mister Pop, won’t surprise Clean-ologists; it’s another set of textured, droney guitar-pop, often too ethereal and repetitive to linger long after the fade-out. But when bandleader David Kilgour whips up something as light and flavorful as “Are You Really On Drugs?” or “In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul”—two catchy, memorably quirky songs that would’ve been college-radio staples in the ’80s—The Clean’s raison d’être is reaffirmed. And when Kilgour leads his mates through an evocative instrumental like “Loog,” with its whooshing environmental sounds and carnival organ, it’s hard to resist the urge to follow The Clean into whatever blissful nowhere they’re about to disappear into.

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