Review by: Lindsy Carrasquillo
America’s current social political climate fosters many emotions from deep frustration and sadness for some to motivation and the need to keep current attitudes from seeming normal. With their eighth record, Woodstock via Atlantic Records, Portugal. The Man explores these feelings through experimental rock that verges on psychedelic pop. Inspired by lead singer John Gourley’s conversation with his dad on the years it took to release a new album since 2013’s Evil Friends to finding his dad’s ticket stub from the 1969 Woodstock festival, the band scrapped the record they were working on titled Gloomin + Doomin.
Ringing in at over five minutes, the album starts off with the track “Number One” which sets the scene for the album. Opening with the line “sometimes I feel like a motherless child,” the song samples a portion of Richie Havens Woodstock performance before drowning out and blending and into Portugal. The Man’s psychedelic sound. Singing a catchy chorus of “oh la la la la la/let’s live in the moment, come back Sunday morning/a lie, oh well,” “Live In The Moment” hints at the idea of a calming escape from reality. Nights where time is lost without any worries, pressures or expectations. However, the song’s seemingly upbeat sound contains the sadness of knowing that the ability to escape only lasts for a brief period and ends in loneliness.
The anthemic single “Feel It Still” is clearly a standout track and now a radio hit for good reason. If this piece of work were an essay, this track would be the thesis. The song contains a slew of references ranging from a melody that borrows from The Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” (which is better known from The Beatles cover of the song) to the start of riots in Chicago that went down in 1966 to 1986’s release of “Fight For Your Right” by the Beastie Boys. While those years are long gone, the need to fight against injustices are ever prevalent. The second half of the album continues with tracks like slower paced “So Young” which touches on being unaware of all the wrongs in the world and has simple instrumentals with strong harmonies. “Tidal Wave” is a funky upbeat synth track which verges of being a commercial pop song with it’s big chorus and simple melody.
The record comes to a close with “Noise Pollution” which speaks of leaking the revolution. Similar to the onslaught of complex events currently happening in America, the album’s content is one that needs to be unraveled. The lyrics hold depth that can be missed in a casual listen. As a whole, the album captures a moment of political unrest in a way that is accessible without lacking depth.
Best tracks: “Feel It Still” and “Live In The Moment”