Portugal. The Man
The Satanic Satanist
Approaching AIRBalloons, Equal Vision
It’s a story far too often told in the music industry: a band refuses to mature their sound and grow as artists, and because of it, they wind up scheduling their own downfall. Portugal. The Man on the other hand, a four-piece band hailing half from Portland, Oregon and half from rural Alaska, knows all about musical evolution and experimentation.
The Satanic Satanist, the band’s fourth studio LP in three years, is unlike any of Portugal. The Man’s previous records. But then again, none of their previous albums are like each other either. While virtually reinventing their sound on every album, the band continues to gather critical acclaim, accrue fans and sell out shows worldwide.
This album, like the band’s own career, is deceptively hard to define. Their debut album, Waiter: “You Vultures,“ sounds like post-emo rock laced with danceable guitar and drum riffs. Their sophomore release, Church Mouth, was an experiment in gritty yet soulful jams lyrically themed to transport the listener into a deep South religious cult. The following album, Censored Colors, was much more artsy and had a folk slash indie vibe to it.
Released in July, The Satanic Satanist takes several of the successful elements from each album, as well as new ones, and hodgepodges them into a fantastically complete album.
This record is far and away the group’s most professional release, as it flows effortlessly cover-to-cover like water off stain-resistant pants. John Gourley, the lead singer and guitarist, transforms what would be standard songs on an average album into all-out anthems with his soulful, crooning, falsetto voice.
Beginning with a guitar solo (something the album could use more of), the first track on Satanic Satanist is “People Say,” a powerful anti-war song that sets a positive tone for the rest of the album. “What a lovely day, yeah we won the war / May have lost a million men but we’ve got a million more.“
Listeners will find it challenging not to bob their heads to the next two tracks – “Work All Day” features reggae-esque guitar strumming and a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs type sing-along work song. “Lovers in Love” then delivers a futuristic soul song thundering with percussion and Moog keyboards.
The album continues with the delightfully catchy piano tune “The Sun,” the grooving bassline-oriented “Guns and Dogs” and the album’s first single, “Do You.” The final three tracks beautifully unwind the record, begging you start the whole thing over again.
A perfect exhibit of how a modern alternative indie rock album should sound, The Satanic Satanist has tracks virtually any listener will enjoy.
Give these tracks a listen: “Do You,” “People Say,” “The Sun“
For fans of: Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Minus The Bear, The Beatles
– Andrew Alberts