Portugal. The Man

The Satanic Satanist

Written by: PP on 21/09/2009 05:21:04

Another year, another Portugal. The Man album, another Portugal. The Man direction. This Portland, Oregon outfit has been putting out one album per year plus EPs of varying quality since 2006, making life difficult for us reviewers because it's impossible to know what to expect from this band each time they announce a new album. Where their debut was quirky indie pop, their sophomore release shifted towards somewhat less interesting electronica and groovy rock, before last year's "Censored Colors" tore their sound into two equally mediocre parts, where The Mars Volta-esque telepathic jamming met classic rock a la Beatles & Led Zeppelin in the mix. In between they of course put out one of the best experimental indie releases I know of in the form of "It's Complicated Being A Wizard EP" (if you don't have it yet, do yourself a favor...), but that's a whole another story. "The Satanic Satanist" is their fourth full length - incidentally also their best yet (excluding the near-perfect EP) - and the one record where Portugal. The Man seem to finally have realized what their strengths are.

But more on that later on. To get straight to the point: fans of the second Panic At The Disco album as well as later Beatles material will likely find themselves feeling home on this record, because It seems like PTM have shifted even more towards writing Beatles-inspired experimental pop from "Censored Colors", except when it comes to writing 60s inspired pop, Portugal. The Man are about a thousand times better at the style than a certain other scene sensation, it seems. The listener is at first introduced to some country rock-ish guitars on "People Say", bringing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" into mind, before launching into a verse that could feel at home on a mid 90s Oasis album, except the amount of detail is of course much bigger. It's actually one of the best songs the band has written to date, and unlike on most previous material, there isn't a subconscious effort to cloud the avid listener with too much experimentalism this time around. So if the overwhelming amount of complexity was holding you back from checking out Portugal. The Man, this is probably the song that's going to convert you into a band that will most likely enjoy a seminal status ten years in the future from now.

"Lovers In Love" features some Muse-esque keyboard, The Mars Volta inspired vocal work, and soothing, dreamy indie rock which draws huge inspiration from The Beatles and other 60s/70s pop acts. The interesting thing about the song is how it manages to keep the core Portugal. The Man sound together despite experimenting into yet another direction, but that's always been one of the strengths of the band. Whatever they explore musically within and outside the confines of indie rock, there's always a red thread that allows the listener to distinguish the band in all of the weird escapades known as Portugal. The Man albums. I guess much of this can be credited to the unique high pitch cry of their vocalist, but still.

Whether it's through extensive use of pedals during solos ("The Home"), the silky smooth but detailed soundscapes of tracks like "The Sun", or deceivingly simplistic songwriting on "Everyone Is Golden", "The Satanic Satanist" just works. Although a strange thing to say, it may be the most Portugal. The Man sounding album to date, perhaps because it takes the best parts of their best material and successfully combines them together across a full album for the first time. It's mellow and soothing. But it's also rocking, groovy, and spacey. It's also something that prior Portugal. The Man albums haven't been: catchy. But most importantly, it's the kind of album you can listen to hundreds of times and still find new details to fall in love with. If you can find five indie acts that are better than Portugal. The Man on this release, I'll eat my shoes, because this is a future classic.

Download: People Say, The Sun, Do You, Everyone Is Golden
For the fans of: new Panic At The Disco, The Beatles, The Mars Volta, The Sound Of Animals Fighting
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.07.2009
Equal Vision Records

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