Portugal. The Man formed in Alaska and released their first album back in 2006. They’re prolific having recently released their 9th album (you can do the math). The band has an eclectic sound drawing from many influences but staying much truer to the alternative genre than most bands on their label. They’ve also had many line-up changes over the years. With their new album “Evil Friends”, Portugal. The Man made their most significant adjustment to date by working with producer and collaborator Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, whose credits include The Black Keys and Beck, while also being a member of Broken Bells, Danger Doom and Gnarls Barkley. Burton has done an incredible job working with Portugal. The Man and their sound is much more focused and accessible now. They are still very distinctive, but this new album should greatly broaden their fan base. The band was so eager to work with Burton, that when the opportunity became available, they scrapped two weeks of recording and dropped 8/10 songs they had completed for their new album. They relocated from a studio in El Paso to join Burton in Los Angeles. Burton shares songwriting credits on every track with the band.
There are so many highlights on the new album, that I had jotted down over half of the 12 songs as possible inclusions to write about. I’m beginning with the second track on the album, and maybe the catchiest, “Creep In A T-Shirt”. The tune starts off with a driving beat and great keyboard riff, and Then John Gourley’s slightly distorted falsetto vocals come in, and it’s off. The chorus has nice background vocals and some well-placed horns to add some punch. Danger Mouse’s touches are all over this track. It’s high energy and a lot of fun. I also like the opening lyrics – “I’m sorry Mr. Policeman, If I wanted to talk I would have called a friend”.