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The Minders


Bands that blindly dunk themselves in ’60s Anglo-pop and Brian Wilson references—for example, a good portion of the rapidly proliferating Elephant 6 collective—often emerge with a sound that drips with cushiness but eschews the oddities, stark passages, and looming freakouts that made the old-school stuff occasionally innovative, when it wasn’t just plain silly. Cite whatever Village Green Preservation Society or Pet Sounds reference you want, but folks like Ray Davies and Wilson weren’t particularly interested in sonic comfort, y’know? Some E6 bands do find a jagged edge—think Neutral Milk Hotel’s cinematic weirdness, or the Apples in Stereo’s infectious trippiness. But then there are the Minders, who won attention with 1998’s tidy, lo-fi Hooray for Tuesday but have overdosed on marshmallowy gooiness on the new Golden Street. The Portland, Ore., outfit, led by expat Brit Martyn Leaper and his wife, Rebecca Cole, would’ve been a singles band back in the day: The fuzz-box riff on “Hand on Heart” has a satisfyingly Stonesy bite, the chorus to “Treehouse” sticks like pollen, and “Give Me Strength” takes all the proper jangle-pop cues from Alex Chilton. Golden Street needs a hit of something grander, however, and nothing is more indicative than the sound collage in the middle of “Nice Day for It.” Leaper’s version of audio collapse isn’t spooky, disorienting, or even funny, and the song closes with a clunky rave-up that helplessly struggles to find some chaos. Those kinds of fizzling misfires aren’t individually offensive, but as they mount up over the 13 tracks on Golden Street, the absence of real fireworks becomes obvious. —Joe Warminsky