Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Album Review: Portugal. The Man - In the Mountain, In The Cloud

Portugal. The Man, a quartet based in the frigid corner of our continent that is Alaska, is set to release their sixth full length album, daringly titled In the Mountain, In the Cloud, on July 19th via Equal Vision Records. Since 2006, the release of a full length has been a yearly ritual for Portugal. Historically, Portugal. has managed to throw together surprisingly strong work in the short period of time they give themselves for writing and recording their records. In the Mountain, In the Cloud follows suit, being both well-constructed and slick as ever.

Portugal.’s appeal is strong as ever, as In the Mountain features John Gourley’s trademark vocal presence over the usual Portugal. fare. Acoustic guitar, keys, bluesy guitar leads, fuzzy bass lines, and an assortment of percussion create a moody soundscape that really drags the audience into Portugal.’s world. The songwriting is mature, if not a bit too poppy for its own good. There is a good bit of jamming and creative exploration, but the hooks hit with such frequency and consistency that they can become one big blur. Perhaps In the Mountain’s greatest appeal is its outstanding production. Though the mix is strong and clear, the production’s tones truly shine, creating the desired vibes with calculating accuracy. In the Mountain is everything that it aspires to be, but unfortunately is little more than that.

Fans of the band will be sure to find much to celebrate, but those hoping for a bit more will be disappointed. If anything, In the Mountain is a bit of a regression from 2010’s American Ghetto. Gone is the funk and attitude American Ghetto, a departure that is a bit saddening, as some of Portugal.’s identity and purpose seems lost. Though very effective in creating moody and spacey jams, In the Mountain seems to be more of a work for the sake of having a work than it is a work to prove a point or make a statement. In the Mountain seems meandering instead of driven. This is certainly understandable given Portugal.’s sound, but a progression from American Ghetto could have been a record to stand the test of time.

In the Mountain, In the Cloud is certainly worthy of any attention given to it; Portugal. The Man have created a very listenable and enjoyable record great for a summer afternoon. However, though it is a grower, I find it difficult to get excited about In the Mountain. Portugal. did everything right this time, but they didn’t outdo themselves.


Track List

1. So American
2. Floating (Time Isn't Working My Side)
3. Got it All (This Can't Be Living Now)
4. Senseless
5. Head Is a Flame (Cool With It)
6. You Carried Us (Share With Me the Sun)
7. Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujahs)
8. All Your Light (Times Like These)
9. Once Was One
10. Share With Me The Sun
11. Sleep Forever

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