Portugal. The Man
In The Mountain In The Cloud


3.5
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
July 20th, 2011 | 118 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Psychedelic rock straining to get out of the box.

It’s either a blatant disregard for quality control or a remarkable ability to maintain consistency when a band releases as many albums as years it’s been in existence – if you count Portugal. The Man’s various EPs and one all-acoustic counterpart LP, the Portland-based psychedelic quartet has already far exceeded all normal bounds of output. Where other bands might have burnt out, Portugal. The Man have already traced a remarkable creative arc, from jam-band-ish prog to a roots rock securely situated in the psychedelia of T. Rex and similar glam with 2009’s high water mark The Satanic Satanist. In the Mountain in the Cloud shares many similarities with that record’s favorable aspects – a penchant for fuzzy guitar licks married to reverb-heavy hooks that slide off the vinyl as easily as the best of their bellbottom-wearing influences and, of course, singer John Gourley, whose Marc Bolan-esque falsetto defines the band’s timeless sound.

But where The Satanic Satanist sounded like a new tack for the band and American Ghetto a grab-bag from their past, In the Mountain in the Cloud seems like more of the same, albeit with a major label budget that allows for an expanded sound. Not to say that things here a retread; songs are as distinct as they come, from the trippy opener of “So American” to the barnstorming riff and cries of the coming revolution on “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now),” and the band’s palette is well diversified. It’s just that a band as obviously talented as Portugal. The Man, a group who combines standard verse-chorus-verse with midsections as thrilling as the space-rock of “You Carried Us All (Share With Me The Sun)” or switches directions as effortlessly as they do with the sinister synths of “All Your Light (Times Like These)” always seem like they could be doing more. Yes, there’s an added dimension to everything here courtesy of Atlantic Records, from bombastic horns on “Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujah)” (have I mentioned that Portugal. The Man needs to lay off the parenthetical song titles?) to an array of strings that color Gourley’s emotive vocals and more. Everything just seems a little on the safe side, content to roam within the boundaries of chorus and hook and Gourley’s vague hippie platitudes.

Fans of Portugal. The Man’s live show will know just what is missing here – that desire to explore, to step out of self-imposed boundaries every once in a while. For a band known for ten-minute-plus jams in concert and a fearless willingness to experiment, In the Mountain in the Cloud is surprisingly tame. This worked for The Satanic Satanist because that record flowed so well and was surprisingly economical; take a track out on that record and the album would have suffered for it. Here, songs like “Senseless” or “Share With Me The Sun” are lovely but don’t really accomplish anything the tunes around them already haven’t. That’s not to say that In the Mountain in the Cloud isn’t a slice of superb psychedelic rock like its predecessor – it most assuredly is, and songs like “So American” and “All Your Light (Times Like These)” are some of the best of the band’s career. It’s just when “Sleep Forever” closes things out with a triumphant six-and-a-half-minute celebration of the band’s sound, one realizes just what Portugal. The Man is capable of. How the song progresses from a light fingerpicked melody and builds itself up almost entirely on the gradual addition of drums, piano and strings and Gourley’s beautifully ascending vocals is a singularly powerful experience. When the band ties everything together with a wicked guitar solo and ends with gang vocals raised in almost church-like ecstasy, it’s indisputable just what the band can accomplish when they allow themselves a little more room to breathe. There’s nothing wrong with writing four-minute protest songs that relish in the best of their psychedelic influences, but it’ll be when Portugal. The Man really unshackle themselves and start writing what they do best that they will establish themselves as a band on par with their forebears.



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user ratings (296)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Neal Zetek (3)
Portugal. The Man's recycled, monotonous yearly release....


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2011


10510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

spell check does not like this band

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Sanders
July 20th 2011


2353 Comments


Writing a review for this band would send my grammar OCD into overdrive.

feav233
July 20th 2011


1411 Comments


just received this in the mail, hopefully can listen to it pretty soon

psykonaut
July 20th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review, i agree with pretty much everything you said

HallucinogeNick
July 20th 2011


755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the more i listen, the more i care less about The Satanic Satanist. Share With Me The Sun is almost better than anything on American Ghetto

HallucinogeNick
July 20th 2011


755 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i got the limited edition bundle and the lithograph poster it comes with is out of this world. John is equally as talented as an artist as he is a singer.

fsharptrit0ne
July 20th 2011


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

These guys should take their time to make an album

psykonaut
July 20th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fucking omar

Realm
July 20th 2011


2074 Comments


american ghetto was def better

SwayzeFaced
July 20th 2011


349 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Well I know that they tracked this album in a few different locations for one. Second no more then one of the bands members where in the studio at a time when tracking. Third they have played over 850 shows so far in their career? and this summer alone they have been on every festival none to modern music it seems, so they have never really left themselves all that much time to "really unshackle themselves and start writing what they do best" because in fact they know what makes modern bands money. Shows and merch sales.

Either way I thought it was a fair rating... seems most of the review is focused on what didn't happen instead of what did.

Like the fact that mixing wise this is probably the best record they have released, courtesy of legendary engineer/mixer Andy Wallace.


and it's really funny that you say the album doesn't really flow as well as their past attempts because from what I am to understand they went into this record with a concept approach and decided to turn it into a piece on their present lives.


but i am a Portugal. The Man fanboy so 5 all day. =]

klap
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2011


10510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not sure what they went into the studio with has to do with my idea of its flow?

what did happen was they made a great album. i felt they could do better. and i did mention the benefit to the production that a major label provided.

SwayzeFaced
July 20th 2011


349 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

well bands don't go into the studio without anything written....

meaning

if they approached the original demos of these songs as a concept album they wouldn't be writing to not flow....

once they ultimately decided not do to a concept album im sure the flow changed some... reordering songs in some instances. but that was my way of saying that i believe this album flows pretty well...

and you could totally take "do you" or "Lovers in love" outta satanic satanist and it would still flow very well....

but i agree they made a very good record. not at all the let down we are accustomed to when a band from this genre joins a major.

Realm
July 20th 2011


2074 Comments


so many shit users

so little


time


.

SwayzeFaced
July 20th 2011


349 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

ahhhhh...


no.

and ill give a couple a sentences of why.


why? because you asked. this automatically makes me want to say no to you. of course you probably knew this when you posted your half hearted attack in the first place.

plus why should I only type...


i agree
you seem to only talk about the bad
i love portugal the man

just because you don't want to read what I write? it's pretty simple... if you dont want to read what I type... dont read it.. and stop trying to turn me to your police state ideas.

thanks,


SwayzeFaced




SwayzeFaced
July 20th 2011


349 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"so many shit users

so little


time"


It's funny you say that because im actually creating a list of the biggest shit users on here....

I think your name might have just jumped to the top. =]

psykonaut
July 20th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol

SwayzeFaced
July 20th 2011


349 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'm glad someone without the mental power to finish two sentences isn't reading what I write anyway....

plus you understand this is the internet?? I'll write whatever I want... and your trendy 15671 comments doesn't scare me into becoming yet another puppet of the Sputnik community right?

this entire situation is funny.. i'm getting bashed for writing my opinions. seems to be a lot of that around here.


either way im done arguing on this post about how awesome you try to make yourself seem and how stupid you are utterly failing at making me look.

AggravatedYeti
July 20th 2011


7685 Comments


you being the expert and all.

Realm
July 20th 2011


2074 Comments


sign up to



sputnikmusic


use southpark avatar


be an ass


insert out of place smiley face

fsharptrit0ne
July 20th 2011


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

PtM has a nice back catalog for a prolific band, I'd just like to see what they could do if they took their time. But who knows, an album like that may be worse than their normal stuff.



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