Portugal. The Man, In the Mountain In the Cloud

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 08.01.11 in Reviews

In The Mountain In The Cloud

Portugal. The Man

“You’re so American,” sneers Portugal. The Man guitarist and songwriter John Baldwin Gourley, a dude who looks a Fleet Foxes roadie but sings in a tenor/falsetto that’s steeped in the glitter of a thousand glam rock gods, as a bed of Ziggy-induced acoustic power chords, hand claps and strings rise around him like a forest of man-sized posies.

Portugal. The Man put on their Bolan hats and reach for the glam-rock stars

As suggested by its name and punctuation, Portugal. The Man specializes in shamelessly anthemic folderol, and on its sixth disc (and major label debut), the foursome embraces its inner Marc Bolan to the exclusion of nearly anything else. The neo-prog, math rock, and jam-band electronica trimmings of its early catalog have fallen away to focus on that early ’70s moment when psych put on its platform boots and reached for the stars. “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)” is T. Rex as bolstered by Sgt. Pepper strings and Spiders From Mars guitars. “I want a world like my teacher told me it would be/I want a love like my parents told me it would be,” Gourley squeaks as if riding a unicorn into a cloud of helium, and there are 10 more bejeweled-hands-in-the-air moments just like that.

Sometimes this single-mindedness can get a little overwhelming: When “You Carried Us” fades out and “Everything You See” kicks in, the latter feels like a second blast of the former song. Produced by Santigold/M.I.A. collaborator John Hill, and mixed by mainstream enabler Andy Wallace, In the Mountain rounds out this previously under-the-radar ensemble’s steady progression from eclecticism to refinement. This is P.TM’s time to hone its strengths and shine, and that it does here with double rainbow results. There’ll be other opportunities to expand.