Album Review

Portugal. The Man, 'The Satanic Satanists'

August 3, 2009

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Portugal. The Man The Satanic Satanists
Approaching Airballoons
ESSENTIAL “Lovers in Love’’

And you thought Sarah Palin’s absurdist non sequiturs were the trippiest thing to ever come out of Wasilla. On “The Satanic Satanists,’’ the prolific Alaskan-bred outfit Portugal. The Man channels Motown and funk excursions, folk anthems, and “Abbey Road’’-style rock and soul experimentation into a collection of songs as tightly wound, and potent, as stuffed rolling papers. Although hippy art collective aesthetic belies the focused song craft here, aided by local production guru Paul Kolderie. Rather than indulging the impulse to ride grooves this mellow off into the sunset, the band keeps one eye trained on the meter (most songs clock in under three minutes), while the other drifts off into the clouds, like on the ’60s-era antiwar singalong “People Say.’’ On “The Sun’’ vocalist John Baldwin Gourley’s high falsetto unfurls like a lover man whispering sweet nothings to nature. Elsewhere “Lovers in Love’’ drops listeners in the thick of a ’70s B-movie car chase with its galloping bongo rhythm. “Mornings’’ finds the band blasting off on a Bowie-esque journey that situates its sound somewhere between the organic earthly roots of the instruments and the spacey ideals of the lyrics. And that’s just where the band belongs. (Out now) -- LUKE O’NEIL