Portugal. The Man.
Waiter: You Vultures!
It’s not every day that I get to write an overwhelmingly positive review. In fact, some days I think I write about pop music just to channel all the bottled up anger that my day job simply won’t permit through hand-on-monitor violence. However, this album has been in iTunes rotation now for about a month and I’ve yet to spill imaginary blood over it. I simply can’t find anything negative to say about.
As I see it, Portugal. The Man. has a number of factors going for it that have managed to keep my knuckles (imaginarily) undamaged. First of all, they’re strange. With odd, colorful lyrics and a debut album called Waiter: You Vultures!, they’ve definitely got that much down. Their band name makes reference to a man, who has in turn chosen to name himself (or has been named) after a country. There’s something in their back story about an aborted novel that ties into this. I digress.
Secondly, most of the guys, who were also in Anatomy of a Ghost together, hail from Alaska. It’s really very beautiful there. It’s also quite cold, relatively speaking. How many great bands have you heard of that began in Alaska? I’ve been there. It’s cold (relatively speaking, that is). I strongly believe that every US state or major locale deserves at least one significant band.
For the most part though, the reason that I like PTM is that their music is refreshingly distinctive. They’re different from everything else in my playlist. After a month of listening to it nearly daily, I’ve yet to become bored with it or to confuse them with another artist. And these days, that seems like a minor miracle.
Waiter‘s brand of pop is an interesting and extremely quirky affair full of angular guitars, surreal strung-out melodies, high-pitched vocals and bits and pieces of well-placed electronic experimentation. The whole thing slithers along with a soulful, sexy, yet somehow uncomfortable gait. Some tracks (“How The Leopard Got Its Spots”) are neurotic, pounding rockers, others (“Stables and Chairs”) are rambling Mars Volta-style ballads, and yet others (“Horse Warming Party”), are looping surreal electronic mash-ups equally reminiscent of both Radiohead and Soul Coughing.
The vocals are great, assuming you’re a fan of Blood Brothers-style high-pitched male delivery (which you certainly should be), and Gatsby’s American Dream singer Nic Newsham guests on a couple tracks here (“Elephants,” “Marching With 6<") as an added treat. The bass is absolutely incredible throughout the entire album, snaking and pounding through everything. The programming mix is just right, adding enough flair to the songs without overpowering the guitar or the oddly sung lyrical recipe.
Every track has its own unique twists and turns, and, unlike your standard fare indie rock album, you’ll never mistake the first song on the disc for the third. My flesh and blood knuckles and the cold dark glass of my twenty-two inch Sony Trinitron thank you, Portugal. The Man. There shall be no imaginary blood spilled today.
Portugal. The Man.: www.portugaltheman.net