An absolute force to be reckoned with, Portugal. The Man releases their brand new album, In the Mountain In the Cloud, on July 19th. If you have yet to indulge in the ear-candy that is Portugal. The Man, I suggest checking them out. In the event that you have never even heard of them, let me explain that they are a very unique indie rock band that somewhat defies genre categorization; people most often refer to them as psychedelic pop or glam rock, but I prefer the genre created by one of my fellow DJs: “eargasmic psychedelic indie rock.”
In the Mountain In The Cloud will be their seventh studio album; aside from their five EPs, the band has put out an album a year since 2006, doubling up with two LPs (The Majestic Majesty was the acoustic counterpart to The Satanic Satanist) in 2009. The Satanic Satanist (2009) and American Ghetto (2010) continue to be awesomely playable and re-playable albums, which only creates high hopes for their newest album from Atlantic Records.
Portugal. The Man calls Alaska home and the guys have released albums on three different labels. Their first two were on Fearless Records, while their next four LPs and one EP were released on their own imprint “Approaching Airballoons” through Equal Vision Records. Shortly after the release of American Ghetto, they signed to Atlantic Records. The band has played at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and SXSW. The last track on In the Mountain In the Cloud is “Sleep Forever,” which is also the name of the band’s short film that premiered via IFC.
The best thing about this album is that it stays true to Portugal. The Man’s roots. Yes, it was released on a major label, but that doesn’t mean that they lost any of the unique goodness that makes them who they are. Every song is stunning, dripping with the modest yet insightful lyricism of John Gourley and backed by the ever-inventive echoing instrumentals we have grown to know and love. If ever you were in the mood to chill out to an album while simultaneously contemplating lyrical interpretations, this is the relaxingly profound inspiration you need.
I have found, in my experience with Portugal. The Man, that one of the most rewarding factors is that they manage to create the psychedelic, groovy vibe without inundating your ears with electronic noises, but rather stay true to tactile instruments. Yes, we hear the synthed-out vocals and electronic instrumentals, complete with reverb-y echo. However, we also hear incredible percussion, dizzying violins, layered keyboard lines, blues guitar, and complex bass lines. The uniquely expressive vocals solidify that distinctive Portugal. The Man sound. In the Mountain In the Cloud is no different, with each song improving upon the last.
In terms of the individual tracks, I would have to say that “Everything You See” is one of my favorites. It is light and catchy in the way that you hope a summer track would be. The intro is instantly fun, and the whole song is just as powerful. You’ll be singing the chorus in your head all day long.
It is without a doubt that “All Your Light” is one of the best tracks on the album, sounding like a classic PTM track–perhaps off American Ghetto or the like. Complete with an awesome intro and heavy guitar solo, this power track may be the best of In the Mountain In the Cloud.
“Sleep Forever,” too, sounds like a classic PTM track- a go-to for fans of the old “Everyone is Golden.” It has a great chorus and an awesome instrumental solo. This track exudes passion, and the violin and background chorus really add power to this track.
I love “Got it All” for the groovy feel with epic orchestration. It has a nice old-school rock and roll vibe, but with a Portugal. The Man twist. In the same rock vein, “Once Was One” is enchanting with its strong guitar line and rock instrumentals with echo-reverb vocals.
Both “So American” and “Floating” have a very old-school vibe and yet are very reminiscent of The Satanic Satanist. For more light and fun tracks like this, see “Senseless,” “Head Is a Flame,” “You Carried Us,” and “Share Me With the Sun.”
Overall, this is an incredibly powerful and original album while maintaining the trademark Portugal. The Man sound. In the Mountain In the Cloud only gets better as the tracks progress. The album drops July 19, so be sure to check it out.