In the Mountain In the Cloud is finally here to reaffirm my ongoing love affair with Wasilla, Alaska’s very own Portugal. The Man. Out today, this is this hardworking band’s 6th studio album—they’ve been cranking out one album a year since 2006 (with each album of impressive quality, no less). In the Mountain In the Cloud–their first release since they signed to major label Atlantic Records in April of 2010–is, in a word, mesmerizing, fitting in nicely with P.tM’s signature psychedelic-garage-rock style that has defined their past 6 releases. It hearkens back to 2009’s Satanic Satanist with it’s feelings of grandeur and in-air suspension, and could be labeled as a more fitting follow up to Satanic Satanist than 2010’s American Ghetto.
After months of cruel teasing with glimpses, previews, and videos revealing bits and pieces of the album (read my preview with all that stuff here), 11 delicious tracks have finally arrived to take you to a place without gravity, where violins float behind thumping bass and nimble snare taps, where voices stack dreamily, coming and going whenever they please. Listening to this album—though, admittedly, it took me a while to get into—I am filled with all sorts of imagery. Every song somehow creates a picture in my head, usually tinted with a mix of cool blues and warm pinks for whatever reason. Does this album induce synesthesia? Perhaps. Does it provide an overwhelming sense of inspiration? Definitely. In the Mountain In the Cloudmakes me want to paint and write and play with color and texture and movement. Perhaps this is inspired by the always gorgeous cover art (actually done by lead singer John Gourley), or the laid-back, whimsically happy psychedelic sound. I feel like I am just repeating myself. I guess what I’m getting at here is that this album is an artistic gem that showcases the crazy, lovely minds of Portugal. The Man.
As for the tracks themselves, “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)” and “Sleep Forever”—the two that were released in full before the album came out—are still holding up as amazing songs in the context of the entire album, both rife with that sweet Gourley falsetto, weirdly wonderful lyrics, and body-moving melodies.The one track I find myself going back to is “You Carried Us (Once Was One)”. The opening guitar plucks grab me quickly, and are a delicate, genius contrast to the booming, mountainous sounds that fill the entirety of the track. Also, for the sweet, relatively bubbly songs that fill the album, there is a balance of minor-chorded, almost apocalyptic bullets that shakes you up, such as “Senseless” and “All Your Light (Times Like These)”.
You Carried Us (Share With Me The Sun) (Snippet) by Portugaltheman
Overall, In the Mountain In the Cloud is Portugal. The Man to the core: it is musically grounded yet intangible and ethereal at the same time; it is witty and thoughtfully crafted (despite its short time in the making); it is inspiring and consuming; it is wonderfully listenable and undeniably catchy. It’s two pink and blue and twisted thumbs up for me.
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