Album Review: Portugal. The Man-In The Mountain, In The Cloud

Prepare your mind for a psychedelic-pop experience. A warped, horrifically good step in Portugal. The Man’s solid music making skills, the major label debut from the band (although it was album number six) is no exception of brilliance. The band takes an ethereal and airy approach, although don’t confuse this with half-heartedness. There is so much layering and depth, it is actually an ocean of music.

The album starts off with the quaint and simple ‘So American’. It shimmers and frollicks, completely oblivious of it’s brilliance, with it’s gushing displays of clashing cymbals and rolling horn/cello section. The section then envelopes into the jovial ‘Floating (Time Isn’t Working On My Side)’. It’s quite a simple song, with straight up strummed chords, a chanted chorus and dashing verses. However, it possess unparalleled charm to any other song on the album.

The string section is the most brilliant part of next song ‘Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)’ which slots perfectly with the theme of losing passion as we grow older. It keeps the nostalgia strong and resonates. At this point, I need to just say that the falsetto has been amazing up to the next point, like, flawlessly good and integral to the entire nature of the record. However, the band embraces some fuzz and piano overtones on the next tune ‘Senseless’, giving a more lossless and directionless feel. They find their feet again with the gentle, psych ballad ‘Head Is A Flame’, and continue the good vibes with ‘You Carried Us (With the Sun)’. It starts to get a tad more jungle and expansive, with Portugal. The Man using more guitar effects and echoing effects, to great success. It was a good change of tempo in the record as well, to stop the mix from going bland, as it could have quite easily done.

A trumpet announces the arrival of darker territory on ‘Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujahs)’. Although Portugal. The Man push on with a brave face, and maintain a cheery smile, it’s clear to see that the band are removing themselves from the all smiles and sunshine of the earlier songs. Their is still a magical void to the songs, but it takes on a more morbid and creepy tone (think TIm Burton). The record is always popping and relaxing as usual, but you can’t help but feel as if the singer is trying to relate a desperate warning message, as the album becomes more basic and less expansive. The record stays within this mostly black comedy style of music for the rest of it’s entirety, and makes sure that it is a diverse spectrum of emotion.

Like the squiggly, looped and textured watercolour painting that adorns the album artwork, this record is incredibly confusing and crystal clear at the same time. It is washed out, unclear, and could be described as a thinking man’s stoner pop. On par with some of The Flaming Lips work, and better than Miike Snow and The Big Pink, Portugal. The Man deliver quite a fantastic effort on their sixth attempt. High-pitched, low strung and exceeding high expectations.

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