Portugal. The Man – In the Mountain In the Cloud

Release Date: July 19, 2011
By Evelyn Miska Krieger

In case you didn’t pick it up from the band’s name, Portugal. The Man is a pretty eclectic and, at times, eccentric group. Their latest release, In the Mountain In the Cloud may seem as if someone took David Bowie, early Elton John, a dash of Eminem, shook it vigorously and, voila! What you get is an odd yet enticing mix of sounds and styles. With their sixth album, Portugal. The Man shows how far they’ve come and, perhaps even sounds celebratory at points as this is their first major label release. How does success sound? Pretty damn good.

“So American” is one of those tracks that has quite the throwback feel with lead singer John Baldwin Gourley alternately channeling Elton John circa “Rocket Man” and David Bowie a la “Space Oddity.” The result is a modernized style that is hard not to like and the best part is, the band manages to maintain that overall approach throughout the entire album. Similarly, “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living)” melds the past and the present, maintains a little bit of a shoegaze approach without being too dour and has the right amount of rock and roll to even it all out.

“Senseless” initially seems like an about face with its more electronic inspired introduction and while it is indeed clearly different from the first three tracks, it isn’t difficult to still find that thread of commonality between the tracks. This is even one of those songs where if it didn’t have that similarity it would still be a great song, so the added fact that Portugal. The Man has an evident plan for their album is the proverbial icing on the cake. “All Your Light (Times Like These)” is another song that sticks out for initially seeming so different from the others on In the Mountain In the Cloud. Although most of the verses have that neo-psychedelic influence, the chorus has a grittier sound to it with enough of a beat that one might feel they stumbled into a rap album. Is it quite what we’re used to hearing all the time on the radio? Absolutely not, but it is that freshness that keeps this collection interesting.

Whether you’re a newcomer to Portugal. The Man or have been with them through their last five albums doesn’t entirely matter. What it all ultimately boils down to is whether the album is good in and of itself and there is no doubt that In the Mountain In the Cloud is a great album. There’s enough edge to keep listeners fascinated and enough that’s familiar to lure others in so they can find out how great an album Portugal. The Man can write.

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