Music » CD Reviews

CD Review: Portugal. The Man

The Satanic Satanist (Equal Vision)

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This Alaska-bred quartet have always been characterized by undulating, multi-movement compositions that make great use of snaky falsetto vocals, odd noises and swelling keyboards — sorta like a prog-rock version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" with jagged post-punk guitar lines. They relocated to Oregon, but their music retained the mythic size and swagger of their home state. Frontman John Gourley has threatened to make a soul album, reflected in the past with funky organ lines. With The Satanic Satanist, he's fulfilled that promise, revealing previously untapped potentials.

By reigning in their expansive impulses (none of the first eight tracks exceed 3:15) and the guitars — and putting the keyboards and thick, thumping bass center stage — they've discovered an even more alluring identity. The call-and-response vocals are well suited to '70s soul, and the deeper grooves subscribe to a less-is-more philosophy that smooths their frantic state.A flower-child psych undercurrent flows beneath "The Sun" and the wah-drenched "Lovers in Love," while the slinky "Guns & Dogs," with its bluesy guitar line, sounds like the Walkmen channeling Keith Richards. Overall, it's a funky, strutting, tuneful late-night party you never want to see end. — Chris Parker

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