Review : Portugal The Man - The Satanic Satanist
PitchforkWhen you name your band Portugal. The Man (punctuation purposeful), you relegate any music you release under such a moniker to "conceptual" status by default. Whether a self-fulfilling prophecy or the product of title-driven priming, then, this Portland by way of Alaska band has now released four albums and four EPs of ambitious yet friendly, pristine and proggish indie pop since 2006. 2007's 10-track EP It's Complicated Being a Wizard, for instance, opened with a 23-minute opus, followed by that same piece broken up into nine sections. Accessibility and a vague gloss of concept comprise The Satanic Satanist, on which the band, already tailor-cut for indie approval, seems to throw everything on the table to make a groovy album with wide appeal.
Satanist isn't necessarily thrilling, but within the tighter parameters the band set for itself, the group has succeeded at making a good-old-fashioned classic rock record. Song lengths stay around the three-minute mark, the production quality gleams, every hook feels anthemic, and the whole thing is permeated by themes of nostalgia, nature, and togetherness (man). I could dive into the lyrics and try to delineate some sort of binding narrative to the work, but the album doesn't seem to want me to (nor do you). The best quality of Satanist is that everything sits right on the surface, from the opening rally cry of "People Say" ("What a lovely day yeah we won the war/ May have lost a million men, but we got a million more") through the hyperactive bongo/wah-wah work on "Lovers in Love" and the would-be hippie anthems "Everyone is Golden" and "The Sun" ("we are all just lovers"!). Binding the whole piece more than even the cross-faded tracks is the limber, occasionally awesome voice of singer-songwriter John Baldwin Gourley, which can hop north into a crystal falsetto, or drop down into a soulful moan at a second's notice....full text
LiftingfacesFirst off, you should never judge a book by its cover. Unless that cover is for Portugal. The Man’s upcoming album, The Satanic Satanist (See the artwork below if you don’t believe me).
The band’s fourth proper LP drops on July 21, and boy oh boy is it a doozie. Its eleven tracks play like a collection of distilled moments of clarity for a band who continue to evolve and perfect and experiment with their sound. Well, after several hearty listens, I have to say I hope this album becomes not just another mile marker along their musical journey, but rather a beacon off shore, a light source as they sail ahead into the deeper, darker waters of notoriety. Because, if my suspicions are correct about the eminent reception of this album, they will need that beacon in the same way Modest Mouse needed it after Moon & Antarctica. (At this point, however, Modest Mouse need a life-boat to get back on board, but I digress.)...full text
CulturebullyAll musicians have a relationship with the sounds they create throughout their careers, and Portugal. The Man is no exception. Relationships with artists serve different functions: some artists use their sounds to masturbate, some use them to have sex. Yet others use their sounds to create musical babies (that could sound trite, but give it chance)–songs that are new, exciting and eventually lead to new phonic relationships. This final category is not imperative to the creation of music and, just like in some relationships between two people, not all couples are ready to procreate. Ultimately however, those musicians that do create new life with their music present something substantial and tangible that knocks the world off its ass and forces it to reckon with this new sound.
Portugal’s The Satanic Satanist is in no way a bad album. I guarantee that it will be an aural pleasure for one’s socially awkward ears. The tracks, other than sounding a bit like Oasis at times, are well cut, catchy, and melodically agreeable. But The Satanic Satanist doesn’t go anywhere new, it doesn’t make a musical baby–it’s just good sex....full text
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