Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
Band's Personal Progression7
Julia Grosek | On 19, Jun 2013
Portugal. The Man released their seventh studio album, Evil Friends, on June 4, 2013 under Atlantic Records. Produced by Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, their latest LP persists to uphold their traditionally chaotic, yet workable style.
In a June 10 interview with Under The Radar, Portugal. The Man’s founder and bassist Zach Carothers spoke of his childhood in Alaska with John Gourley, the band’s cofounder, and the influence on their sound and style that this degree of isolation imprinted. Growing up without internet access, there was little connection to mainland United States, so, in a small town, the two looked to their parents’ record collections for entertainment. Soon, they discovered a particular connection with Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Of its influence, Carothers said,
“We always want to make records that we’ll listen to for a long time. It’s the one completely selfish thing that we do when we’re writing music and putting out new records – we want to make albums like DSOTM that have that coherent theme, and as a result people often feel like our new stuff is really different from what we’ve made before. But, we want to change. We’re humans, we evolve. It’s what we’ve done and want to continue to do.”
And since their debut into the world of experimental psychedelic rock back in 2006 with the release of Waiter: “You Vultures!”, a certain type evolution has become undoubtedly apparent. With the help of Brian Burton, Portugal. The Man has cleaned up their sound for their latest LP by producing more organized tracks all the while maintaining their overall spontaneity by packing the album with a multitude of sounds and arrangements.
Lyrically, Evil Friends extends individualistic, anti-establishment sentiments in tracks like “Modern Jesus,” proclaiming, “Don’t pray for us/We dont need no modern Jesus/To roll with us,” and later, “The only faith we have is faith in us.” As typical with Portugal. The Man, the powerful lyrics are camouflaged inside a catchy, easy on the ears tune that distracts the listener from the more serious overall message.
“Creep In A T-Shirt” boasts lines like, “I’m just a creep in a t-shirt, I don’t fucking care” and “And it’s not that I’m evil; I just don’t like to pretend,” offering a cynical take on today’s existing societal standards; a ballsy move to address a topic that complex in a span just under four minutes. At 0:14, a structured, upbeat tune breaks from slow-building, synthesized sounds, offering misleadingly cheery background noise to a song that lyrically intends to express a large “fuck you.”
“Evil Friends,” the title track placed third on the album, repeats the line found in “Creep In a T-shirt,” “And it’s not that I’m evil; I just don’t like to pretend,” reenforcing the album’s themes of individualism and the rejection of today’s phoniness. The energetic guitar riffs that break at 1:12 cause a quick 180° turn around, exerting more of an aggressive feel for the track than originally expected.
Reflecting upon Zach Carothers’ notion that sound evolution is characteristic of Portugal. The Man, Evil Friends is a definite change from their last LP, In The Mountain In The Cloud. Evil Friends is inarguably more pop-ridden than its predecessor, which features a heavier, edgier style of production reminiscent of their much earlier work. In addition, John Gourley’s voice exhibits less of an octave range in Evil Friends than in past work, opting to remain rather high. Though it requires a few listens before it seems fully natural, Evil Friends is a lighter, yet still respectable album that does a good job of demonstrating a band’s ability to shift their sound in more ways than one.