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Album Review: Portugal The Man - American Ghetto

I'm going to start off this review my praising the band's idea of releasing the record to press, fans, retail etc simultaneously. It's a good model that I hope some in the industry pick up on and continue. As a band Portugal The Man continue to push themselves and explore new ideas 'American Ghetto', as well rehash some old ones.

Whilst for fans of Portugal The Man, it does not seem 5 minutes since last summer's 'The Satanic Satanist', one of my favourite record of the past 12 months albeit a short one in length. In some sense 'American Ghetto' picks up where that record left off; laid back American indie rock with subtle quirkiness and a hint of electronica ('The Dead Dog').

The blues-y guitars and jazz-esque feel is something else the band have kept in tact, as seen on '60 Years' which also sees the band using a somewhat psychedelic approach. Whilst 'All My People' sees the band putting on their feel-good guitar-pop guise on, as they're clearly in a vibrant mood.

Throughout the band musically and structurally push themselves and provide an interesting record, with plenty of variation. The deep, brooding Fantastic Pace', that rises above with its soaring guitar solo and group vocals, that breaks down into electronic-based funk instrumentation. 'The Pushers Party' sees the bands use of classic rock-like guitars continue.

'Do What We Do' combines John Gourley's folk-esque voice with swirling electronic effects, as the bands experimental approach is at it full force. Closing track 'When The War Ends' that sounds vaguely similar to MGMT, with its high-pitched vocal delivery stabbing synth notes and overall upbeat tone.

Despite releasing a record so soon after their last one, Portugal The Man continue to challenge and somewhat re-invent themselves, as 'American Ghetto' shows a band who are, as always, willing and open to try different ideas, which leaves you interested throughout, both musically and lyrically. Although this does not seem instant on first listen, as the bands musical depth can at times take awhile to absorb, but once understood its pleasing to hear. The end result is one that can be organic and refreshing.

4/5

'American Ghetto' by Portugal The Man is available now digitally through portugaltheman.com/ghetto and released physically on May 11th through Equal Vision Records.

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Sean Reid

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