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The Minders: Golden Street

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Album: Golden Street
Label: spinART

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Of the many bands associated with—or, if recent trends prevail, disassociated with—the Elephant 6 collective, The Minders set itself apart with a commitment to layered simplicity and unabashed retro-mindedness. The group's 1998 album Hooray For Tuesday sounds like a lost artifact from the British Invasion, and a glorious one at that. The Minders later disbanded, with frontman Martyn Leaper and cohort Rebecca Cole relocating to Portland and recruiting new musicians. Golden Street is the first full-length product of the second-phase Minders, and for long stretches, it sounds like the work of a different (albeit no less gifted) band. The eponymous album-opener, a sort of envious "Penny Lane," starts Golden Street off on an anthemic note, but then trails off in a peculiar coda that suggests what subsequent tracks confirm: Leaper has discovered ambition with a capital A, the bane of many great pop bands. Nevertheless, Leaper, who plays most of the instruments himself, handles his new ambition fairly well for most of the album, supplying a catchy track like "Give Me Strength" for every distorted vocal/harpsichord ballad like "Light." If not quite the instant knockout of Hooray, Golden Street rarely displeases. Retaining the "baa ba-ba-ba" harmonies of its predecessor but placing them in odd settings, Golden Street may feature the sound of a band in transition, but every act should wish its growing pains sounded so promising.