Review Summary: Underrated psychedelic gem from 2008 that deserved a more positive review.
I think Portugal. The Man was pretty confused before producing Censored Colors
. Their first album was a disjointed brand of amateur post-hardcore played like The Mars Volta
. And then 2007’s Church Mouth
: an equally disjointed mess of rock and roll influences. Portugal
was desperately searching for cohesion and identity and in 2008, I think they found what they were searching for.
Opener Lay Me Back Down
comes in like a desert mirage of psychedelic guitars and John Gourley
’s high-pitched wailing. It has an anthemic quality that is carried into the rest of the album. Surprisingly, Portugal
finds cohesion in this new unification of psychedelic rock and roll and progressive elements. And there’s enough diversity on this album without losing identity in their musical influence.
There are also some strangely inviting rests/building moments on the album in tracks like Intermission
and the pseudo-jazz track New Orleans
that comes after. And the intermission track comes at a fitting point on the album, setting the pace for three of the best songs on the album. The chanting, moody, lengthy New Orleans
builds up and down repeatedly until settling on a refrain of , “…then we’ll find that sleep we lost.”. This refrain goes up in in smoke until a rattling drum roll clears the air on Never Pleased
. Blaring horns set the pace for this infectiously catchy track. Never Pleased
also settles on a refrain, “I know that you know that I know that you know I try.” until some very dramatic string instrumentation comes out of nowhere, including the cello. The strings repeat themselves until the frantically punk rock Sit Back And Dream
cuts into the mix. For me this was the most fun song on the album. The weird, twangy slide-guitar combined with the catchy, head-nodding rhythm of the bass and drums are very fulfilling.
Hard Times/Our Times
follows and it’s the weakest song on the album. It’s annoyingly repetitious unlike the successfully employed repetition in other tracks. But All Mine
follows, featuring some gorgeously layered vocals in place of this minor flaw. Actually, I think the only instrument I hear other than voices in All Mine
is a tambourine, and towards the end a piano. 1989/Our Way
is a fitting closer, driven by some really great sing-along melodies and pacing.
is Portugal. The Man’s best album and an underrated gem that you’ll be sorry to miss.