It has always annoyed me when bands fail to list the names of their album's
songs on the back, or even the front, of the
CD case. Why? It never fails: you're rocking out to a killer tune,
you flip the case over to see what it's called and you get a big fat
nothing. This can be especially troubling if you happen to be driving
at the time and do not possess the faculties to actually open the case
to find out the name of the bloody song. I only mention this because, as
it happens, Golden Street falls into this most annoying of categories.
Fortunately, its packaging is one of its few weaknesses.
Here, at last, is the official follow-up to the Minders’ 1998 debut,
Hooray for Tuesday (the singles collection Cul-de-Sacs and Dead Ends filled the interim). In the three years since their debut, the
Portland-based trio has matured in both songwriting and
arrangement. While their debut reveled in jangly, Kinksian glory, Golden
Street finds the group eager to stretch their musical canvas, adding
keyboards, television dials, harpsichords and saxophones into their
already eclectic mix.
The first three songs on Golden Street make it clear that this will
be a treasure trove of pop goodies. For starters there's the lushly
orchestrated title track, which marries a lilting piano line with
soaring melodies and Martyn Leaper’s positively McCartney-esque croon.
"Light"'s aquatic dissonance and spiraling harpsichords find the band
tipping their Technicolored cap to labelmates The Apples in Stereo and
their pioneering brand of psychedelic pop. Third offering "Treehouse"
is an acoustic campfire-style tune that certainly wouldn’t be out of
place on a Fairport Convention tribute album.
The remaining ten songs find the band touching all
possible points on the musical map. On this exciting trip you’ll discover
fuzz-laden garage rockers ("Hand on Heart" and "Right as Rain"), fervent
blasts of gushing harmonies, majestic brass and layered keyboards ("Give
me Strength"), sultry, female crooning ("Sleeping Through Everything")
and a trance-inducing burst of toytown psychedelica ("Nice Day For
It"). Throughout the album The Minders prove themselves to be
musical jacks-of-all-trades, weaving effortlessly between genres and
Thanks to Golden Street, The Minders may not be the Elephant 6's best kept secrets for much longer. With tunes this good, I can even forgive the band's failure to print song titles on the back of the album.