Portugal. The Man
Evil Friends


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dakota West Foss USER (15 Reviews)
June 12th, 2013 | 91 replies


Release Date: 06/04/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Portugal. The Man Portugal The Mans the hell out of the latest Portugal. The Man release.

On Portugal. The Man’s last release, In the Mountain In the Cloud, singer John Baldwin Gourley sang in that album’s closing moments, “I just want to sleep forever/Never see tomorrow/Lead or Follow.” It’s hard to blame him. The psychedelic-tinged indie-rockers managed to crank out release after release at a blistering pace since the band’s inception, miraculously never faltering from the band’s standard of quality. Unfortunately, being among one of the most consistent band’s out there comes with a certain amount of baggage. For one, expectation comes with consistency -and expectations kind of suck. While Portugal. The Man have almost always met these expectations, they’ve also become one of the least surprising bands in the process. A lack of surprise is fine when the quality of releases are as high as with Portugal’s, but it also makes an album like In the Mountain In the Cloud –good as it may be- inessential. Evil Friends, the band’s 2013 offering, probably aims to shake that reputation. Coming off the first two-year break between releases, it has a surprising amount to answer for: will this finally be the album that break’s Portugal. The Man’s glass ceiling? Or will it get lost in the shuffle of their increasingly deep discography?

The answer is frustratingly predictable in the best way.

“Plastic Soldiers” picks up right where the last album left off, sounding like one awakening after sleeping forever. It doesn’t take long before the eyes come back into focus as horns give way to soft buzzings and pianos dancing over calm beats. It’s perhaps a more reserved opener than usual for the band, but it secretly manages to sneak in the album’s mission statement as John wonders aloud, “Could it be we got lost in the summer?” Starting with the next track, “Creep in A T-Shirt”, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent that this is a summer album through and through. The bombastic horns and “get it, get it’s” found throughout are sure to make their way onto airwaves in a big way. “Hip Hop Kids” is the triumphant drive to the beach with friends; “Sea of Air” is the pink sunset at the end of the day. Hell, even “Waves” is the perfect anthem for the seasonal political activists at summer festivals. In the past, Portugal. oozed cool from its earnestness; here, they communicate fun.

Part of that vitality is no doubt due to famed producer Danger Mouse lending a helping hand. The album is distinctly Portugal, but moments like the title track –which finds the band kind of doing a good impression of the last few Black Keys albums- and “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” that probably wouldn’t have been done without his guidance. The hip-hop spice sprinkled throughout their brand of psychedelic-ish indie rock is surprisingly effective, trimming down on fat and gorging on hooks: Evil Friends is essentially a collection of singles that just happen to work well together and make more than the sum of its parts. It’s easily the album with the strongest sense of identity in the band’s catalog.

Truthfully, it’s hard to find fault with an album that’s as fun and carefree as Evil Friends. Sure, “Smile” is a pretty weak closing track compared to others that they’ve made, but it’s not offensively bad besides its very abrupt end. “Holy Roller [Hallelujah]” is both pretty forgettable and shows that the band still clings on to unnecessary brackets in song titles. Some of the lyrics are a bit puzzling, with “Hip Hop Kids” calling out…absolutely no one in particular it seems with probably the worst line the band has written: “All you hip hop kids think we give a ***/Well we don't”. The rest of the album relies a bit too much on the side of self-pity, which is largely at odds with the vibe of the music itself.

So does Evil Friends shatter Portugal. The Man’s glass ceiling? I’m not really sure. If it doesn't, it certainly shows the band banging the hell out out of it. The summery vibe may limit the album's lifespan in the future, but, that should do little to put off prospective listeners. Simply put, Evil Friends is one of the most fun albums of 2013 and continues to show that the name Portugal. The Man is synonymous with quality.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
June 12th 2013


350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's been a long time since I've written anyone. Really surprised this album hasn't been touched. As always, comments/criticisms/advice is much appreciated.

RadicalEd
June 12th 2013


2683 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice. Only bad thing about this review is, that i have my review nearly finished and now I'm not the first to review it anymore xD

Digging: Jakob - Sines

toxin.
June 12th 2013


12602 Comments


Not sure which song it was but one of the songs off here they played live and it was incredible. Very poppy but in a good way.

Good review, will check out album if I remember

johnnyblaze
June 12th 2013


2614 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

happy to see this get a solid review. great work man.

Holy Roller does get a little stale on record, but i could see that thing going off hard in a live setting. so many catchy
tunes on this.

Emyay
June 12th 2013


5964 Comments


Hip hop kids is awful. The rest of the album sounds decent from what i've heard so far

loveisamixtape
June 12th 2013


6072 Comments


TSS is their best in my opinion but i kinda don't want to check this out because i feel like it's gonna sound like all of their albums

Calc
June 12th 2013


12249 Comments


yucky summary.

if i didnt like this band much before will i like them now?

Digging: Milo - A Toothpaste Suburb

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2013


10269 Comments


Hahaha, love the summary.

Am strikingly indifferent about these guys though, unfortunately.

Odal
June 12th 2013


350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Calc

If you enjoyed anything about them in the past, this is worth giving them another shot for. Danger Mouse really helped out with things. This is probably the best starting point for them now.

ashcrash9
June 12th 2013


391 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Smile was a huge grower for me, probably one of my favorites here.

I hate the fact that I enjoy Hip Hop Kids so much. Those lyrics are terrible, but I can't help but love it.

TooLateToGoBack
June 12th 2013


1773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Creep In A T-Shirt and Waves are brilliant.

Odal
June 12th 2013


350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, those are probably my two favorite tracks.

wacknizzle
June 12th 2013


13462 Comments


Not sure how I feel about this PTM album yet, alot of the melodies seem really generic.

Digging: This Gift Is A Curse - I, Gvilt Bearer

Odal
June 12th 2013


350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's how I felt at first, with a few exceptions. It wasn't long before I realized that I dug most of the songs and realized how catchy this LP is.

wacknizzle
June 12th 2013


13462 Comments


It's definitely catchy, I like it a little bit but it still hasn't pulled me in like my other favorite records of theirs. Satantic Satantists was super Beatles-esque and catchy but the melodies felt authentic.

Prodigal
June 12th 2013


51 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Second best after Waiter. Sure it's more mainstream and a bit more simplistic but the catchiness is present on every song. Great summer album.

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2013


10492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Creep in a T-Shirt is one of their best

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2013


16402 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^agreed. Love the first half of this album in general.

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 30th 2013


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't stop listening to this, "Someday Believers," "Creep In A T-Shirt," "Purple Yellow Red and Blue," and "Smile" are excellent.

tempest--
June 30th 2013


13871 Comments


This is good.
Like, really good.



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