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To future generations, 2013 will be known as the year psychedelic rock rediscovered its mojo on account of impressive releases from Tame Impala, Minus The Bear, and now Portugal. The Man with their seventh full-length album, Evil Friends.
In this album, produced by the ridiculously talented and overachieving Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, The Black Keys, Broken Bells), you can see that the band have carefully crafted each sound and each lyric meaningfully and intentionally. This dedication to a polished finished product became evident when the band scrapped all of their progress after two weeks of recording at Sonic Ranch studios in El Paso (Texas) before re-recording in LA.
So what does a twice-recorded album written by a band with roots in the Pacific screamo scene of the early 2000s and produced by a highly acclaimed producer sound like? The answer, bloody blissful. For five young gentlemen they do, at times, sound quite angelic.
There’s one truly striking element to Evil Friends and that is the way that PTM have created a beautiful fusion of different sounds spanning so many different genres. While the album in its entirety is a solid example of synth-friendly psychedelic rock, they also incorporate elements of punk, acoustic, and prog rock.
Purple, Yellow, Red & Blue is already gaining radio popularity with a catchy refrain, “All I wanna do is live in ecstasy / I know what’s best for me.” The title track, Evil Friends, is also a winner, a song that sounds characteristically PTM.
While PTM are based in Portland, Oregon, their influences are varied and they found their feet touring with early screamo bands Chiodos and Fall of Troy as the now defunct Anatomy Of A Ghost. However, their sound since then has taken a different turn, with experimental, prog and indie influences becoming recurrent in their impressive 6-albums-in-six-years record.
Lyrically this album is laced with free flowing liberal-punk attitude. Hip Hop Kids has a notably heavier punk sound as well as lyrics that basically say “stick it to the man”. Modern Jesus is an ethereal sounding, dreamy track with religiously toned lyrics echoed in Holy Roller (Hallelujah).
PTM keep up the natural elements theme of the album in the last track Smile, a beautiful mellow ballad that pretty much takes you to a rolling field of lush green and endless blue skies, “We’ll watch the sun come up / To take it down.” Their nonchalant, earthy approach to lyrical themes is almost as integral to their sound as the questionable full stop after Portugal in their name.
While Evil Friends is to be released on 21st June, PTM have put it up for streaming on Tumblr, true to their characteristically DIY approach. They have already released a couple of music videos on their YouTube channel – Atomic Man notably features a bunch of lazers and a pretty good light show.
Evil Friends is a beautiful, diverse melting pot of all of your favourite things about music and is set to be one of the best releases of 2013. It is evidence to support the popular myth that everything Danger Mouse touches turns to gold.