Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
Record Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: June 4th 2013
I don’t know if it was the fact I wasn’t hugely into indie-rock, or I’m not weird enough, but I never was quite into Alaskan indie/psychedelic group Portugal. The Man. I purchased a copy of 2011’s In the Mountain In the Clouds, but it didn’t quite floor me like I thought it would. It was a rather odd record, but it was really groovy and funky as well. Maybe it just wasn’t my thing, but nonetheless, I was excited for the band’s seventh record Evil Friends. I was into the title track, when they released it as a single, and that had a nice 60s rock sound to it, which peaked my interest for the entire record. I didn’t even know the record itself was released until I saw it under “new releases” on iTunes, or something like that. I ultimately picked it up when Best Buy didn’t have a few other things I wanted, but this was also on my list. Well, I ended up being glad that I purchased this record, because it’s one of the most enjoyable records I’ve heard all year. In the Mountains was just too boring for me to really get into it. Every song sounded quite similar to one another, and by the last song, I was excited for it to be over. When that happens while listening to a record, that’s never a good sign. Evil Friends, on the other hand, is a lot more diverse, and to keep the record interesting, the band actually references a lot of the songs with OTHER songs. It’s a very entertaining and engaging record, because you (the listener) have to be paying attention throughout it, to really get the full experience.
If anything, this record is a very eclectic piece, because it’s really unlike anything I’ve ever heard, as is the band itself. This record features a lot of interesting things, but it takes a few listens to really digest this record, so to speak. Opening track, “Plastic Soldiers,” is a really cool track, and while it doesn’t represent the whole record, it does have the general vibe this record gives off, which is light and breezy experimental pop / indie rock. There are hooks galore on this record, basically. Second track “Creep In a T-Shirt” is a prime example of this. Continuing this trend, third track and title track “Evil Friends” is the one track that I knew from this record, like I mentioned earlier. This track is one of the more “rock” songs on the record, which a really groovy guitar riff running throughout the song. As with this whole record, this song is one of the more fun tracks. The two tracks are what I would call a one-two punch, “Modern Jesus” and “Hip-Hop Kids.” Both of these songs feature a lot of synth work, and just overall catchiness that makes it almost impossible for these songs to get out of your head.
Of course, with just about any record, there are some songs that just don’t do anything for me, which comes in the forms of a few tracks here and there, but there are a few more tracks that I do love. Ninth track “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)” is one of these tracks; this is a track that has some blues and jazz influence, and it sounds really awesome. The last track, “Smile,” is another one of my favorites, too. It ends the record on a nice optimistic note, with saying how when everything seems tough, it’s good to just smile. Basically, this record is a rather experimental indie / psychedelic record. There’s not a whole lot to this record, and while this record is really enjoyable, my biggest gripe with it is merely that it feels way too long. At 48 minutes, there’s a lot to take in, yet the record doesn’t really go into many directions. There’s definitely enough to come back for repeated listens, but this is a band that I could just never get into. There are tracks that I absolutely love, but there are some that just don’t do anything for me, either. The tracks that work, definitely work, but the ones that don’t aren’t necessarily horrible, just really boring. So, all in all, Portugal. The Man definitely delivers with Evil Friends, a lot more so than prior record In the Mountains In the Clouds. That record was rather stale for me, but this one is a bit more enjoyable.