Archive for the ‘american ghetto’ tag
Portugal. The Man’s been around for sometime and I didn’t know a goddamn thing about them till I heard last year’s American Ghetto. To say I was impressed with the band’s funky, rock-the-fuck-out sensibility – which is admittedly very Flaming Lips-esque at times – would shortchange them. “1000 Years” and “All My People” from the album have stuck with me as intense instances of guitar and groovy synth. Last year’s album also occasionally featured choral elements, which was unexpected, peculiar, and ultimately fun; it’s not a new approach of theirs, but it definitely worked best on American Ghetto. I found myself after the first full listen secretly repenting my previous ignorance of their well-crafted and extensive backlog and waited since for their next release, eager to be on top of it all.
Frustratingly, In The Mountain, In The Cloud takes a few ideas brought up in earlier albums and just spends too muchtime with them. For one, flying in the face of sparsity, there’s now a choral arrangement in practically every track. If you take anything away from this review, believe that there really is such a thing as too much of a singing community, and it especially irritates when found in otherwise reflective and self-divulgent tracks, e.g. “Senseless.” But while on the topic of vocal disappointments here, John Gourley sounds like he’s taken it upon himself to imitate the girly, almost shrill style of Michael Angelakos from Passion Pit like it’s his, well, job. Catching even a hint of the resemblance in “Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujahs)” raises a distracting, if not also perplexing, question: Is it really a voice worth coveting in the first place?
Another overuse is the theme of optimism, exemplified back in the day with The Satanic Satanist gem, “People say.” The majority of the tracks here fixate on the often sigh-worthy idea, with “Share With Me The Sun” being an obvious stab at the saccharine. Yes, I will never dispute my favor for tones of cynicism in my music, I bet repeatedly hearing lyrics the likes of “At the bottom of it all/ We got it all” gets on the nerves of anyone the least bit aware of the dire economic news we wake up to every morning as of late.
Still, quality music does emerge during this latest LP. “So American” gracefully channels Ziggy-era David Bowie, while “All Your Light” gets me thinking of colorful associations to Freddie Mercury and Queen. Unfortunately, the gold in In The Mountain, In The Cloud only sits below the crust as units of dispersed nuggets, not in close knits of abundance.
Maybe they’ll get their shit back together for a predictable release next year.