Intriguing. The Band
“I don’t believe,” admits vocalist John Gourley at the end of Portugal. The Man’s fourth full-length release The Satanic Satanist, which packs more spiked punch than the creators’ probably think. The band’s experimental history culminates into one solid pop album dipped in soulful excursions, bluesy happenings, and funky choruses.
Opening the record, “People Say” invokes the chilling power of country soul focusing on a distinct Southern twangy guitar. Gourley’s almost Marley-like plea for help sets the album’s straightforward tone well into the rest of the tracks.
The arpeggiated synth opening of “Lovers In Love” bursts into a Latin-prog tinged freakout with the vocalist sounding like a more chilled out Cedric Bixler-Zavala (The Mars Volta). The guitar gets treated with a wah to keep up with the spacey psychedelic overtones.
The next three tracks, “The Sun,” “The Home,” and “The Woods,” deem themselves quite the trilogy with soulful chants, slick guitar leads, and a maintained intense, but thematically laidback atmosphere that is heightened, but never masked by Gourley’s high-pitched melodies.
A certain quality to The Satanic Satanist‘s sound lies within its ability to sound bluesy without torture, soulful without abuse, and folksy without preach. The overall experimental elements Portugal. The Man deploys on this album become apparent on the closing track “The Morning,” which sounds more inspired rather than influenced by legends of Americana. Hauntingly familiar, the track plays out like a drawn out Pink Floyd ballad much like Coheed and Cambria’s “The Final Cut.”
Of course, one can find The Satanic Satanist‘s elements buried within hundreds and hundreds of indie pop groups feeding off Dylan, Baez, Hendrix, Zeppelin, and the rest. Look deeper and you’ll wonder if maybe it took Portugal. The Man’s post-hardcore past, three eclectic albums, and Gourley’s stories just to make their fourth release that much better, different, and sweeter.