If David Kilgour contented himself musically by merely being one third of New Zealand post-pop masters The Clean, he would nevertheless be held in the highest regard. But given that band’s sporadic activity since forming in the late ’70s, it’s not surprising that he has busied himself with other projects. Here Come the Cars, Kilgour’s solo debut from 1991, however, came about during one of Kilgour’s periods of greatest productivity. The Clean had reformed and released Vehicle the previous year, while he had also released an EP with Stephen in 1989 and spent some time in Snapper with former Clean bassist Peter Gutteridge. But like love, sometimes inspiration comes in spurts, and so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Here Come the Cars is one of Kilgour’s most distinctive works.
Here Come the Cars was originally issued on CD by Flying Nun, who remastered the album and issued it again on CD. De Stijl Records has thankfully seen fit to give the album its first release on vinyl. The album is marked by Kilgour’s penchant for gilded guitar tones and pop melodies. Texturally, though, Here Come the Cars is more mellifluous than his work with The Clean. After the languid title track that leads off the album, “Fine” is a sun-dripped mix of sparkling guitar tones and hazy vocals that has Kilgour sounding like some distant cousin of Mitch Easter (circa Big Plans for Everybody). “You Forget” is equally wondrous, if more buoyant, refrains of “ooh la la la” traipsing over spritely touches of piano and a guitar riff worth its jangle in gold.
The touchstones of Kilgour’s output are all present in spades on Here Come the Cars, but it’s hard to think of another album where he seems in in his element as much or is as consistent. “Kills All My Fun” is the most glorious buzzkill you could ever want to hear, with Kilgour positing lines about self-loathing atop several criss-crossing guitars. “Blueprint” is just as wondrous, aqueous tones swimming around suitably obtuse lyrics. “Nothing Vol. 1” takes punk-like nihilism and reshapes it into a something more nefarious pinned to a VU lick that trails off as the record ends. Kilgour has given us a great many great records, but I’m tempted to say this one tops them all. At the very least, it’s him doing what he does best at his very best—and that is saying an awful lot.