You know I like me some Portugal. The Man, their last album Censored Colors landed at No. 6 on our Most Awesomest Tsururific Albums Of 2008! That, alone, is no small feat. So imagine my surprise and childlike glee when I heard that they were already ready to drop (as the kids say) a new album on us, adorably named The Satanic Satanist.
With a title like this and a cover like that, along with their tendency to shape-shift more often than a horny William, I had NO idea what to expect. Turns out “People Say”, featured in one of our tsuruloosie reviews, was the leadoff track, which comes off odd because it really sounds like something that you’d expect later in the album. So, fine, “People Say” gets us going with it’s easy going countrified classic rock n’ groove, setting the tone and sending a message about war. We already liked this song, so my head’s bobbing along, a little knowing smile in my ears… So this is where they want to begin.
Suddenly it ends and we literally fall into “Work All Day”, a steady beat takes over, smooth, a little gold chain, a little cocked fedora or something along those lines, and something I never expected from Portugal. The Man….. Swagger.
“Lovers In Love” continues the theme. Suddenly I’m wondering if these guys spent the time since Censored Colors in Harlem, circa 1970-something! I was half-expecting a guest appearance by Shaft!
Not singing, mind you, just standing there in the studio, just like that.
The album cruises by, dropping more swagger, grabbing it’s balls, and generally being “the shit” until “Do You” when I felt like we dropped back into Censored Colors territory again… A lovely rockin’ dirge of sorts that transitions us nicely into trippy Beatles LSD fields of heart shaped flower children purple lover moon bubbles with “Everyone Is Golden”. How is possible these guys keep pulling me further and further back? How did I go from skin-tight ball-hugging bell-bottom polyester slacks to a tie-dye shirt, cut offs, and stupid round glasses! You bastards….
That’s the thing about Portugal. The Man, regardless of the album, is that that’s what they are crafting…. ALBUMS. In a world where iTunes reigns supreme and bloggy blogs are quick to post the new song or remix of a song or a cover of a dead pop star’s song that happened to show up in their inbox, the art of the album is dying. Ironic when you think vinyl record sales are up, eh?
Why records? I think two reasons…. One, it’s hip/fashionable/etc to buy records, so that’s some of the sales. But I think (and hope) it’s beyond that. In this disposable culture that I, admittedly, am part of, I think it leaves some of us feeling hollow and empty. Buying a record, an actual LP, opening it, pulling the record out for the first time, dusting it off and the needle, looking at the album art while the album plays, reading the sleeves, it all adds depth to something that is often regulated to a myspace listen and maybe a casual song toss on the ipod.
It’s a shame. How many people will tout the awesomeness of Satanic Satanist but never actually hear the bluesy, psychedelic orgy of “Mornings”? Yeah, he sings “we’ll be just fine, we’ll be just fiiine”, but will we? I’m not as certain. Even he, in the end, admits that he doesn’t believe we will be. I have my good days, my hopeful days, but some days, days when I listen to ALBUMS, I’m not always so sure.
So here, enjoy the first few tracks off the album, get your mouth watering, then go buy the rest!
Got no soul?
That’s fine, alright…
OU R S O C I E T Y
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