A Slice of Fried Gold

Music Release of the Week

Monday, July 20, 2009

This week I am going to start a new Monday tradition on my blog - I'm going to specifically target the one CD I would purchase this week if I could only afford one. I'll do this every week for Monday, and then provide links on where you can pick up said album and other helpful tidbits, and then hopefully through my incessant prodding and with the assistance of other far greater writers than I, you'll decide to support the artist of my choice. Seems like a great idea to me. Luckily enough for me, this first week I can specifically target one of my favorite bands.

As per usual, P.tM brings it on album art

Release of the Week: Portugal. the Man - The Satanic Satanist

You could make a fairly strong argument that Portugal. the Man is one of my favorite bands. They're from Alaska, I've seen them more times live than any other band (plus in multiple states - Idaho, Washington and Alaska), and they're just incredible musicians. Not only that, but there is the excitement that comes with their constant reinvention. It seems as if every year brings us a new P.tM album, and with that seemingly an entirely new band altogether. After progressively altering their sound album to album, from the electronic and technical rock heavy Waiter: You Vultures! to the more experimental and funkier Church Mouth to their most recent and arguably most assured album Censored Colors, the guys are back with the next step in their sound on the Satanic Satanist.

In a lot of ways, you could say this album is their most straightforward album yet. I don't mean that in any sort of negative way, but in the way that it is the most accessible from a rhythm and melody sort of way. You can tell a lot about what you're going to hear on the album from the first track, titled "People Say." Starting off with faded drums and moving into some absolutely funky organ and bass, the album feels like a throwback from the very beginning. You can really hear a lot of influence from the Beatles throughout, and there is something just pure and melodic about what they are doing here.

The most complimentary thing I can say about this album is it is pure pop in the best way you can use the term. Second track "Work All Day" works its way into your head so fast, you find yourself singing along within the first listen. It is like lead singer/songwriter John Gourley and the rest of P.tM have channeled everything they've loved about pop music over the entirety of its existence into this album and the results are simply spectacular.

Another one of my favorite things about the album is how it acts as an amalgamation of their previous three albums into one focused sound as well, as if there discography was a mathematical equation and this album is the sum of the parts. "Lovers in Love" really works as the best example of this, as the synth layering in the background, the driving drums, Gourley's smooth jam vocals and the easy falsetto he provides within the chorus, even the electronic flourishes. It is a stunner, and a great finale to an electric trio to star the album.

I really could go on all day about this album. I love every track, as there is a certain sunnyness throughout (certainly more than you would expect from an album titled the Satanic Satanist, but I digress) that is perfectly complimentary to the way people want to live their life, or at the very least the way we want to live our summers. Alternately soulful, retro, affecting, and expertly performed, this is everything I could ask for out of this stellar band.

In a lot of ways, I've found my listening habits to sort of mirror the way they've progressed in their sound. It seems as if every time they release a new album, it is released at a time where I am getting into sounds similar to what they are producing. That makes the experience a more personal experience for me as a listener, and connects me to the music in a deeper way. I highly recommend picking this up tomorrow, and for those vinyl aficionados (*ahem* Erik), the packaging is delightful. You aren't just purchasing an album, you're getting an experience.

Portugal. the Man - the Satanic Satanist: A

Additional links to other opinions/thoughts on this album:

-Interview with lead singer John Gourley
-Review on Lifting Faces
-Stream the whole album for yourself here


Erok said...

Yet another reason to attend MFNW!

David Harper said...

Dude, have you looked at the lineup? So freaking awesome. Plus, there are two more Nike shows to announce, and I am sure they will be great too. They always are.

Financially though, it just doesn't work for me. Colver and Lorna's wedding is going to be filthy expensive to get to, and then to turn around two weeks later to go to MFNW? So tempting. So expensive!

Get this album!

Erok said...

Ooooooo that vinyl packaging looks fabulous also.

Amy said...

Mmmm... i love it so much! When I hear "The Sun" I can't help but think of Freddie Mercury. Such a sweet voice!

Zack Stone said...

David, great review. I see that you and I are the first to link to our blog reviews of Satanic Satanist on PTM's site. I said some similar things in my review, which you can read here:


So I read that you have seen them live a couple times. I'm on the east coast, and they will be in NYC in a couple weeks. Anything in particular I should know before I go to the show?

Happy blogging.


David Harper said...

Hey man, nice review yourself. If you haven't done it yet, check out their older albums as well.

I've actually seen them 8 times (crazy when I think about it), but I'd just say expect a great performance, and expect different versions of songs than what you are used to. They often jam within songs and alter structures as they please in a way that is disconcerting to a listener if they are completely focused on the song matching the one in their head, and great for the open minded listener.

Besides that, Mr. Gourley has a tendency to set his mic up so he essentially never has to look at the audience. Every time I've seen them he's tilted a bit more to the crowd, but it's kind of funny. Just another quirk of an awesome band.

Hope you like them! They deserve a lot of support, so bring your friends!

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