Portugal. The Man - The Satanic Satanist (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Portugal. The Man

The Satanic Satanist (2009)

Equal Vision / Approaching AIRballoons

Portugal. The Man went on a huge classic rock and psychedelia kick after the release of 2006's Waiter: "You Vultures!". Though "Vultures!" didn't necessarily carry any strong similarities with the members' own musical past, it was almost as if to cut ties completely with the band from whence they came. It was a sensible trajectory for any band, really, but the resulting albums from the prolific act weren't quite as memorable (2007's Church Mouth and last year's Censored Colors). They were solid, no doubt, but vaguely composed and nary a moment that would truly stick.

The Satanic Satanist slightly modifies these issues by providing not only Portugal's most economical effort to date (clocking in at a tidy 35 minutes), but also its smoothest. Their hooks still aren't provided in spades, certainly, and this album's no less indebted to the Beatles (scope the riffs ushering in opener "People Say") than the last two, but it's a refreshing and more effective full-length front to back. Whether it be the subtle dub groove to "Work All Day" or the unwinding, soulful fuzz of "The Home," P.TM invade their songs with careful elements for two to three minutes apiece and then leave as is, never overdoing it -- whether that be musically, or time-wise. (If you really need complexity, consult the elaborate, diecut packaging of the album's physical CD release.)

That restraint goes a long way in keeping Satanist not only a listenable experience but a pleasant one, too. "Guns & Dogs" refuses to eclipse three minutes, but it features plenty of mini-buildups and swelling tones that work just as well in Satanist's smaller bursts. Not that the album ever becomes agitated or tense, but "Everyone Is Golden" is the type of even lighter, floating fare the band really excels in.

The stripped-down, reared-back method is one that clearly works for Portugal. The Man. One can only hope they keep such a mindset for their future releases, which knowing them, shouldn't be too far away.

The Satanic Satanist