[SODA AND BONDAGE] On Sweet, Simple Things, Minden trades the jazzy touches of its previous albums for pure, clean-cut pop. As a result, songwriter Casey Burge is able to show off his knack for infectious hooks more than ever, effortlessly blending shimmery disco rhythms, intricate percussion, dreamy keys and funky basslines, and making it all sound effortless. As implied by the album's opener, "Real Sugar"—whose lyrics of longing for sugary soda could be interpreted as Minden's mission statement—Sweet, Simple Things is a thoroughly sweet album, and if your palate isn't inclined toward sugary stuff, the cutesiness can start to grate. At times, it sterilizes the band's funk influence, lending a coy irony to songs like the glittery title track and "Never Spayed," despite references to bondage and pet play. Nonetheless, Minden fans will at least appreciate hearing the band they've watched grow from Kansas City obscurity to Portland staple manage to hone its songwriting craft so finely.
SEE IT: Minden plays Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., with Reptaliens, on Sunday, Aug. 14. 8 pm. Free. 21+.