David Kilgour fronted the Clean—perhaps New Zealand's most successful independent rock band—in the '70s and '80s, inspired groups like Pavement, Yo La Tengo, and Camper van Beethoven, and helped change college radio from a station to a genre. And while he will always be best remembered for his association with the pioneering Kiwi-rock band, Kilgour is a rarity in that he didn't burn out after the Clean—he got better.
The work on his seven solo albums was born out of the Clean, but evolved into something even more impressive over the years: It's as if his true musical talent couldn't come out until he left the confines of a band.
Kilgour's songs fall somewhere between crafty pop and experimental drone. His love of folk, pop, Dylan, Lou Reed, psychedelic, and Brian Eno is fleshed into songs that are natural and unforced, as if they were entities of their own to begin with. Beautifully engaging and warmly textured, his songs are experiments in creating music that is at once dark and light, droning and danceable, noisy and infectious. They fill the room with traveling melodies and thick layers in a way almost any music lover will welcome. Critics have called his latest, The Far Now, his best work to date. The songs were brought to life by Kilgour and a cast of revolving musicians—including a few from the band Lambchop—sometimes in his home country, and other times tucked away in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kilgour is a truly prolific songwriter with such an impressive catalog that it begs the question: How is the man not better known? Kilgour is of the criminally under-recognized camp, and it's a shame. Though, maybe it's for the best—after all, fame tends to have a spoiling power. And Kilgour—through the 20-odd overlooked years he's been making music—never spoils. He just keeps getting better.