Review Summary: Portugal. The Man's recycled, monotonous yearly release.
Introductory track So American
is great. In the airy, chiming first notes, layered electric and acoustic guitars, dense bass, anthemic string section, and catchy melody in the voice of John Gourley. In The Mountain In The Cloud
then proceeds to recycle the same So American
formula in a slightly varying, seriously underwhelming fashion for the majority of it's remaining forty minutes. The verse-chorus-verse song-structures blend into a blurry, psychedelic mess of monotony, song after song. Verses aren't given enough time to grow and breathe as underwhelming choruses resurface again and again to let down the listener in each song.
It isn't Portugal. The Man
's sound that is to fault, the sounds on the album are revitalizing for the band. In The Mountain
of the spark that I fell in love with on Censored Colors
in the unique instrumentation and cathartic atmosphere created the sum of Portugal
's parts. It's just that this solid combination of sounds is compressed into uninspired dullness. I spent my time in each song waiting for each bland chorus to steal the potential of every verse, again and again.
There are a small handful of fleeting, exciting moments on In The Mountain
that show a glimmer of hope for the album, but these moments are few and far between. Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)
is a fantastic song that encapsulates everything this album attempts to recreate in the efforts that follow. It features a gorgeously infectious refrain, "This can't be living now. If so then show me how. We'll shake, shake, shake the night away..." delivered in Gourley's high-pitched howl. I can imagine this track alongside the collection on Censored Colors
. A collection of songs that soars righteously above this effort in ambition and immersion. In addition, All Your Light (Times Like These)
is a worthy breather that sufficiently individualizes itself from the rest of the album along with the airy, head-bobbing Once Was One
These songs ultimately leave a sour taste in your mouth as a listener. They repeatedly underwhelm expecting you follow along until the album's ambitious ending. Sleep Forever
closes leaving the listener wondering why every other track lacked the growing space evident in it's sprawling six minutes. As a lover of Portugal
's previous efforts, I will hold onto the ambition seen in this song and Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)
until Portugal. The Man
decides to dig deeper into something other than verse-chorus-verse uniformity in 2012.