on July 20, 2011
I have been a fan for a while now, and loved their past efforts. I was worried their foray into a major label would dampen their sound or creativity, well I was wrong. This album is for the lovers of psychedelia and soaring vocals, if a man exercising his falsetto scares you, look elsewhere. It sounds grandiose but it is not pretentious in any way. The opening track "So American" is an instant hook that draws you in, complete with steel drum and all. The second song that really caught my attention (and my favorite track) is the fifth track "Head Is a Flame (Cool with It)" The vocals, guitars, bass, and atmosphere all have such an eerie nostalgic feel and pacing, the best chorus and solo in all the album leaves me humming and singing all day. I want to keep this review brief so I urge all who liked their previous work to support and buy this record.
on August 20, 2013
I had never heard of this band until a fellow co-worker suggested that I might like them. I checked out some stuff on YouTube, liked what I heard, and then picked up this album. These guys are certainly unique. Although their material is somewhat retro in nature with a psychedelic bent not all that different from bands like The Flaming Lips or even some of their forefathers from the 60's, the band manage to be original and extremely creative. Apparently this is the band's first album on a major label. Not having any of their previous stuff I can't say how it compares, but I don't detect any "selling out" on any of this stuff. The opening track "So American" is instantly catchy. I also like "Head Is A Flame", "Everything You See", and "Sleep Forever". Really, every track on here is pretty strong. The vocalist's voice is different and took me a few listens to get used to, but once it sinks in his voice is the perfect complement to the music. The bottom line is that I will definitely be seeking out more of this band's material.
on January 3, 2013
Many people say the quality of all music has declined over decades, and if they came upon this realization only by listening to mainstream radio, they'd be absolutely right.
Had they peered into the mysterious, innovative world of underground music -- specifically underground psychadelic and experimental rock -- they'd know this is certainly not true. Thank the Musical Gods for acts like Minus the Bear, Pepper, Passion Pit, Rx Bandits, The Dear Hunter and, of course, Portugal. The Man.
An odd name, indeed, but who cares when such beautiful rock music is what they produce? All of their albums are glorious (though "It's Complicated Being a Wizard" is an acquired taste; they were doing something different there), but this one takes the cake. Make no mistake, THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST ALBUMS OF ANY GENRE OF THE PAST THREE DECADES!!! The whimsical riffs, the hauntingly beautiful existenalism within their perfect lyrics, and the unexplainable nostalgic sound emanating from each track...This album defined my sophomore year in college, and I challenge any rock enthusiast to give it a listen.
Note -- If you're more a fan of classic rock, the kind reminiscent of the 1970s, I'd start with the tracks "All Your Light", "Senseless" and "Share With Me the Sun." I'm not saying these are exact replicas of that decade's sound, but it's like a modern example. Just give it a try. It'll be better than whatever's on the radio.
on September 9, 2011
It's either a blatant disregard for quality control or a remarkable ability to maintain consistency when a band releases as many albums as years it's been in existence - if you count Portugal. The Man's various EPs and one all-acoustic counterpart LP, the Portland-based psychedelic quartet has already far exceeded all normal bounds of output. Where other bands might have burnt out, Portugal. The Man have already traced a remarkable creative arc, from jam-band-ish prog to a roots rock securely situated in the psychedelia of T. Rex and similar glam with 2009's high water mark The Satanic Satanist. In the Mountain in the Cloud shares many similarities with that record's favorable aspects - a penchant for fuzzy guitar licks married to reverb-heavy hooks that slide off the vinyl as easily as the best of their bellbottom-wearing influences and, of course, singer John Gourley, whose Marc Bolan-esque falsetto defines the band's timeless sound.
But where The Satanic Satanist sounded like a new tack for the band and American Ghetto a grab-bag from their past, In the Mountain in the Cloud seems like more of the same, albeit with a major label budget that allows for an expanded sound. Not to say that things here a retread; songs are as distinct as they come, from the trippy opener of "So American" to the barnstorming riff and cries of the coming revolution on "Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)," and the band's palette is well diversified. It's just that a band as obviously talented as Portugal. The Man, a group who combines standard verse-chorus-verse with midsections as thrilling as the space-rock of "You Carried Us All (Share With Me The Sun)" or switches directions as effortlessly as they do with the sinister synths of "All Your Light (Times Like These)" always seem like they could be doing more. Yes, there's an added dimension to everything here courtesy of Atlantic Records, from bombastic horns on "Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujah)" (have I mentioned that Portugal. The Man needs to lay off the parenthetical song titles?) to an array of strings that color Gourley's emotive vocals and more. Everything just seems a little on the safe side, content to roam within the boundaries of chorus and hook and Gourley's vague hippie platitudes.
Fans of Portugal. The Man's live show will know just what is missing here - that desire to explore, to step out of self-imposed boundaries every once in a while. For a band known for ten-minute-plus jams in concert and a fearless willingness to experiment, In the Mountain in the Cloud is surprisingly tame. This worked for The Satanic Satanist because that record flowed so well and was surprisingly economical; take a track out on that record and the album would have suffered for it. Here, songs like "Senseless" or "Share With Me The Sun" are lovely but don't really accomplish anything the tunes around them already haven't. That's not to say that In the Mountain in the Cloud isn't a slice of superb psychedelic rock like its predecessor - it most assuredly is, and songs like "So American" and "All Your Light (Times Like These)" are some of the best of the band's career. It's just when "Sleep Forever" closes things out with a triumphant six-and-a-half-minute celebration of the band's sound, one realizes just what Portugal. The Man is capable of. How the song progresses from a light fingerpicked melody and builds itself up almost entirely on the gradual addition of drums, piano and strings and Gourley's beautifully ascending vocals is a singularly powerful experience. When the band ties everything together with a wicked guitar solo and ends with gang vocals raised in almost church-like ecstasy, it's indisputable just what the band can accomplish when they allow themselves a little more room to breathe. There's nothing wrong with writing four-minute protest songs that relish in the best of their psychedelic influences, but it'll be when Portugal. The Man really unshackle themselves and start writing what they do best that they will establish themselves as a band on par with their forebears.
on January 1, 2014
"Your body don't work for nobody but me son" with a drummer that makes you feel frustration and rage
I don't feel like I should have to explain just buy it or you are dumb
some falsetto dudes but tasteful and relate-able
on May 22, 2013
I like that the songs all have pretty nice tunes and there's some good guitar as well. My only problem is that a lot of the songs sound a bit samey. But, still, pretty enjoyable and looking forward to the new one in June.
on July 19, 2011
Admittedly, I arrived to the Portugal. The Man's bandwagon a little late...The Satanic Satanist was my first foray into their musical landscaping. However, I've been a devoted fan ever since. I wondered what their major label debut would sound like...and to my astonishment, it sounds just like it should...the same...but bigger.
Personally, I would suggest starting with some older material (The Satanic Satanist and American Ghetto)first, before working your way to this one. Mainly, so you can appreciate the growth they've experienced both in songwriting and production over the course of just a couple of years.
Regardless, if you should start with this album, rest assured, you will still be in good hands, as songs such as, "Floating (Time Isn't Working My Side)", "Share With Me The Sun", and "All Your Light (Times Like These)" stand among their strongest.
on August 29, 2011
Portugal. The Man keeps their amazing streak of doing something different on each album alive with this '70s drenched, T-Rex meets Electric Light Orchestra, alternative pop masterpiece. Incorporating a little of everything they've done before- progressive jams, folk rock, electro pop- while pushing the boundaries of the studio to new limits, Portugal. The Man has created with "In the Mountain In the Cloud" an inspiring 11 song sequence filled with sing-a-long hooks, catchy riffs, and just enough room for some serious exploration when they take these songs to the stage.
The album opens with the one-two punch of "So American"/"Floating", two tracks seeped in strings and percussion that instantly evokes the studio wizardry of mid-seventies Bowie. "Senseless" soon follows and is drenched in guitar noise, in which lead singer/guitarist John Gourley proves his guitar mastery by doing everything with his six strings but soloing. "Once Was One" starts off sounding like a "Censored Colors" outtake before it evolves into another sweeping, drum-machine driven epic. What may be the best song PTM has ever released, "All Your Light" finds it's roots in "American Ghetto"'s dark second half. Ominous keyboards give way to a pounding drum beat over which Gourley's voice soars, at times playing call and response with the band's almost tribal backing vocals. Then, out of nowhere, the band drops into a seriously tight jam that harkens back to the band's first album, "Waiter: You Vultures!"
Lyrically, the band explores some darker places. Vietnam, politicians, growing old, "So American" is NOT a compliment, "All Your Light" CAN'T save me, and "Sleep Forever", the closing track, ends with the lines "everything is perfectly messed up again". For all the catchy riffs, quirky keyboard noises, and bouncy rhythms, the mood of the lyrics does not seem to be overwhelmingly positive. It is this contrast which makes the album that much more interesting.
It seems that there is something new to discover every time this album is played. If you own headphones, put them on. Portugal. The Man has done an amazing job of creating a sum that is greater than its parts, but to fully appreciate all that went into this album, make sure you find the time to hear all those parts.
on February 27, 2012
I'll keep it short and simple. BUY THIS ALBUM!!!!!!!!!!!!! You will see! My wife and I took the time to listen to the whole album twice yesterday and it's such a crisp record. This band is very talented. This album is sexy!
on May 11, 2013
Over the past year, this album has grown so much on me, that it's now one of my all time favs. The jams in this album are so enticing.