Portugal. The Man – Censored Colors

Source: Highbeamreview.com

Portugal. The Man has made it to my top five favorite records of the year every year since they have released a record. Usually my top picks aren’t relatively new artists, but this is one of those bands that have never ceased to impress me throughout their short career. Every release shaped up to be something different in texture, but still possessed what is known as Portugal’s signature, larger than life, sound.

Enter now, Censored Colors, the bands third full-length. Recorded around a two week period, the band have once again changed their textures to an array of “colors” this time. Gourley has said the album begins with six tracks, or “colors,” that blend into each other after the record’s intermission.

Gourley also said that he switched writing styles from a riff repetitive compositional arrangement to a chord progressional arrangement. This is more than evident, and mixed with the band’s newest member Alex Neighbors’ key arrangements and a guest cello, well, this is the next step in Portugal. The Man’s catalog of alienating themselves from the crowd, but reminiscent of music’s forefathers.

“Lay Me Back Down” growls and swings into a slowed ragtime downbeat. You’ll recognize the band, just dressed differently. “Colors” signifies incredible drumming and a full blown chorus, vocally thicker than the band. “And I” is the favorite here. Delayed organ and lo-fi opening vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar, the song simply blast itself into an epic harmonic rocker. This solidifies Portugal’s idiot-savant knack for brilliant song-writing and composition. This is what music is missing these days. The full depth sounds articulated with real vocals that would echo from a church on Sunday along the Bible Belt.

“Salt” rhythmically bounces around, as smooth as the bass lines that drive it home. And when the band launches into the blues rock chorus and repetitive “No, I’ll never come down, never come back down from here,” you’ll believe the band’s larger than life message. “Created” is a far removed acoustic ballad, and is a nice break, elegant, but has a tendency to slow the album for a minute until “Out and In and In and Out.” Acoustically gaining speed once again, it launches itself into Gourley’s rock riff antics.

After “intermission,” things begin to blend and “New Orleans” is pitch perfect with horns and distant vocals that make one think they’re in a bar somewhere in the French Quarter. The song is ambient, yet well held together. “Never Pleased” is radiant with life, frantic vocally and ending again with the repetitive line “I know that you know that I know that you know I try.” “Sit Back and Dream” acts more as a reprise than bridge before the slow jam of “Hard TImes.” “Our Times” sounds like it could be a 70’s sitcom opener, and begins the wind-down of the album.

The dwindling end of Censored Colors is the only flaw in the album. “All Mine,” “1989,” and “Our Way” blend into a three section outro. Each song alone is nothing special, but together make for a blended ending, a la a late Pink Floyd record. Without looking, the last two tracks are passed through the ear without skip to ambiently wind down in what sounds as a single track.

For those fans expecting anything old, there’s keys and wonderfully crescendo-ing song structures that were found on Waiter: “You Vultures!” and blues riffs that saturated Church Mouth. Portugal. The Man have once again changed it up, and have once again solidified themselves as one of the best bands out there, hands down. It will be hard for any other band to contend for the number one spot on my list this year.

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