“Evil Friends” by Portugal. The Man

As the track “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” on Portugal. The Man’s latest album, Evil Friends, suggests, it’s quite all right to embrace a blend of different tones. A theme that is clear throughout the album is one of eccentric sounds ranging from smooth and dreamy to electronic, with bursts of all out rock in the mix.

Both singles, “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” and “Evil Friends”, play on the strengths of Portugal. The Man’s often stimulating music that has been consistent throughout their albums. At the same time, however, this recognizable sound is slightly altered and enhanced with the strong guidance of New York City producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton).

Danger Mouse–who has collaborated with artists like Beck, Gorillaz, and his more recent project, Broken Bells–has since connected with Portugal. The Man and began to merge the bands unpredictable yet reachable sound into what became their eighth full-length album. The mark of Danger Mouse is present throughout the album, with sounds of Broken Bells sprinkled within some of the songs, especially the first track, “Plastic Soldiers”.

The native Alaskan group, led by frontman John Gourley, have continuously been known for their indefinable ways that often steer toward positive vibes with some ethereal tones embedded in both their lyrics and instrumentals. In an album that took an extra year to create, Evil Friends delves into a darker side of Portugal. The Man many of their fans haven’t heard yet.

The songs stay energetic, full of passion, and deliver a sense of purpose that is apparent throughout. While the album is a roller coaster of sonic tones, the themes and underlying hints and messages found in songs such as “Modern Jesus”, “Holy Roller”, and “Someday Believer” give the listener a chance for a deeper connection to the directness of this album.

From songs like “Creep In A T-Shirt” and “Hip Hop Kids” the upbeat progression keeps the listener engaged while infusing sharp lyrics like, “And I just stand still/Watch the world grow colder/And I can’t change, I can’t change” and simply, “I just want to be evil.” Throughout these singles and the entirety of the album, Portugal. The Man with Danger Mouse have drawn from their previous albums to create Evil Friends, a look and sound that is far different from what the band has produced in the past, and one that was well worth the wait.

By Jamie Bogert

If you liked this, check out:
June Album of the Month: Boston Strong Music Project
May Album of the Month: “Optica” by Shout Out Louds

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