Portland -- by way of Alaska -- indie rockers/genre-mashers Portugal. The Man release their fury of an album The Satanic Satanist today, and the effort is one of polish and whimsy. The band's sound jumps from indie rock to folk to blues with a little taste of soul. However odd it may sound, it's a winning combination that turns The Satanic Satanist from another boring, run-of-the-mill indie rock album into an explosion of creativity, experimental sounds and inspired lyrics. The album starts off with an absolute bang in the form of the song "People Say," foretelling the future of those listeners brave enough to sit down and have themselves a taste of Portugal. The Man's strange, funky fruit.
The aforementioned lead track "People Say" begins with some organs, twangy guitars and a 10 second first verse -- all coagulating into a funky, spot-on, rollicking good time. The genius of the song comes in the mixing of the album -- it segues perfectly into "Work All Day," another fresh, folk/soul offering that has come to be Portugal. The Man's calling card. John Gourley's unmistakable vocals and singing style pepper the song with some of that undeniable Alaskan blue-eyed soul, along the likes of...pretty much just himself.
The album's third track -- the delightfully redundant "Lovers In Love" -- is a stark departure from the previous two songs, with its synths, violins and bongos. Yet it's a fantastic song, working Portugal. The Man's oddball angle perfectly. Gourley is at his best on this song, showcasing his vocal range from stout and demanding to light and yearning -- all while not being at all afraid to hit those high notes. Sometimes I take issue with Gourley's singing style -- as on "Work All Day," when he slips into a bastardized version of white dude rapping that smacks of Jason Mraz on "The Remedy" -- but in the end, I find myself being pulled towards his vocals more than anything else on the album (and that singing style on "Work All Day" is subject to the backbeat of the song itself).
In the end, The Satanic Satanist is a tight, cohesive offering that showcases the bold creativity and unconventional melodic style of Portugal. The Man. The band has been around the block a few times, so they know exactly what they are doing at this point in their careers. That maturity -- that wisdom -- is evident all throughout The Satanic Satanist, in full view for listeners and fans alike. Those indie rock fans searching for an album with a little bit of white dude soul need look no further than Portugal. The Man, and that's something deviously absent from today's indie/alternative rock scene.
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