Portugal. The Man - Waiter: 'You Vultures!' (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Portugal. The Man

Waiter: 'You Vultures!' (2006)


Under the moniker Neon Blonde, the Blood Brothers' Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar released an album last year full of electronic flourishes, strange guitar tones, Ziggy Stardust influences, and high-pitched wailing; it was critically praised, but may not have exactly been the most accessible release of the year.

What does this have to do with Portugal. The Man?

Well, while the Alaska-based band may be most notable for the presence of two members of the now defunct Anatomy of a Ghost, a mediocre-at-best nü-post-hardcore act, Portugal's first full-length in Waiter: "You Vultures!" seems to take a lot of Neon Blonde's aforementioned elements and approach it from a slightly different angle, combining them into a more easily digestible concoction. It's not as varied as Chandeliers, but that's not to say it's watered down. It's lightly paced, sure, but a highly interesting debut all the same with layered instruments, cascading guitars, and a soulful, sexual flow about it.

It's no coincidence vocalist Nic Newsham of label-mates Gatsbys American Dream appears in two of the record's undoubted standout moments. "Marching with 6" is one of the album's more dynamic offerings, with multiple time changes, perfectly executed handclaps, and Newsham's sinister coating, which eventually results in his barking "take take take! Take take take!" and multiple recorded chants coming from every corner of the speakers. The song's followup, "Elephants," is equally strong in the Dynamics department; flittering guitar brushes help introduce the song with John Gourney (guitar/vocals) beginning his narration of common-town activities until more effective claps, acoustic accompaniment, and tambourine hip-tapping fill up the soundscape, evolving into a manic series of yells that sound like a gang of Asian schoolgirls that precede the slowing pace, but still involve Newsham spitting lines over it to close the thing. Other definitively memorable moments include the practically anthemic "Stables & Chairs," the temperamental fuzzy keyboard stomp / piano-led slow jam of "Chicago," and the cold stare of Gourney's drugged out ramblings in opener "How the Leopard Got Its Spots."

Portugal. The Man fit into the same creative niche of 21st century indie rock / post-hardcore currently occupied by like-minded peers Circa Survive and the aforementioned Gatsbys, writing songs that are arguably dense but simultaneously culling the especially enjoyable elements of alternative pop/rock. Their debut here is a bit lengthy, but is likely to sit well with fans of bands like such.

Stables and Chairs
Marching with 6

AKA M80 the Wolf
Bad, Bad Levi Brown
Kill Me the King