Over half a dozen albums into Portugal. The Man’s career, I’ve realized that this is the album to turn you. Evil Friends is the latest release from those dudes from Alaska, and I feel like soon I can finally stop asking people if they’ve heard their work. It may be possible after this year to call it silly to have never heard what seems to be the most well rounded PTM album to date.
The album was produced by the mighty Danger Mouse, and if I know one thing about both John Gourley and Danger Mouse, its their ability to paint a vivid picture and story with a record. I always thought PTM and Danger Mouse would make a great combination, after looking at other artists who have told a part of my same life stories in some way (Dungeon Family and The Black Keys) with the 5 time Grammy winning producer.
This album sees the addition of Kyle O’Quinn, Noah Gersh and Kane Richotte on keys, guitar, and drums respectively. Kyle’s key chops are second nature to him, and play well along with the Portugal. The Man spirit established so many records ago. Noah brings a welcome layer of depth (particularly to the live show) with his multi instrument duty. As for Kane, any kid that follows the work of the legendary Thomas Pridgen automatically made me feel safe. I was right.
According to what you feel and hear on their 8th LP, we experience a look at the state of world and its plethora of hoops to jump through, with equal part dissecting ourselves and identifying the damage from shitty relationships. The gratifying part in seeing both sides of the coin, is that like many great stories, it ends with resolutions, and in many ways, personal triumphs.
Starting with Plastic Soldiers, acoustic guitar wanders into the album parallel to horns that would make Mark Mothersbaugh turn his head to see what’s good. If anything, the horns(ynth) are heralds to what I consider the albums three track introduction.
All the long time fans of Portugal. The Man know that feel-good sing-a-longs are not lost on them in the slightest. Cue a montage of an intelligent generation rising to the occasion, realizing that there are others struggling (and of course slowly succeeding) on their journey.To me, Sea of Air is the song about the opportunities presented by hard work, and the fears of spreading your wings when the time comes. It signifies a chorus of previously unknown allies on a struggle with their inner demons, and the ones you face every day in the world.
As soon as I heard Purple Yellow Red and Blue, I considered it the theme song to the seldom-hustlers of our fair Los Angeles. We’ve all seen it, the kids who we sit and wonder how they’ll make it out alive. After a while, all you can do is sit back and laugh. Take that feeling, and you have one of my favorite upbeat tunes of the record. This is the best low key call out since Pumped Up Kicks.
Of the entire new album, I had myself playing Atomic Man more times in a row than I can count. The introductory electric guitar sticks to the brain, along with some of the best lyrics I’ve heard from front man and guitarist John Gourley. I think a lot of broken and frustrated hearts will instantly attune to this track instantly, and catch themselves singing it on the open road through the stereo. Perhaps this song is about knowing that you’re worth much more than a naysayer or heart flayer.
Of the years I have been fortunate enough to get to know and see the professional growth of Portugal. The Man, I do see this as the next phase of their music life. Hopefully I’ll see you Angelenos at the Wiltern on July 12th for the Evil Friends tour. Evil Friends is out now everywhere!
Until next time my friends,