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Portugal. The Man

Censored Colors

(Equal Vision; US: 16 Sep 2008; UK: Available as import)

Portland, Oregon’s foursome of psych-rockers, also known as Portugal. The Man, have gone even deeper into left field than during the course of their first two full-lengths. And on Censored Colors, their third effort in three years, they further tackle bridging the gap between experimental soul and classic rock, mixing the two genres for one hell of a fun, albeit repetitive, listen.

The 15 tracks, many of which break down into three-song epics, are thrown together with gorgeous vocals, warbled guitars, explosive percussion, and blitzing, sometimes wavering keyboards. The blending of “Lay Me Back Down” into “Colors” and then “And I” is the kind of thing album-lovers’ dreams are made of. And you would be hard pressed to find a better series of transitions than those heard between the moving and jazzy “New Orleans”, the surging “Never Pleased”, and the all-out punk-jam “Sit Back and Dream”. 

But some problems arise during tracks that seem out of place or simply dull, like “Salt” and “1989”. Also, good luck understanding what frontman John Baldwin Gourley is singing about most of the time. Some lyrics comes across as straightforward emotion, but many of them are cryptic and vague. This wouldn’t be a particularly important downside if it did not seem like these guys were trying to get a message across. Those issues aside, though, Censored Colors is a solid album that should cement Portugal. The Man as a group that is no longer up and coming but one of indie-rock’s finest.


Weekly newspaper reporter by day, music reviewer by night (OK, and by day, too). When he's not writing for PopMatters, Andrew spends most of his time at online magazine Prefix and hip-hop site Potholes In My Blog.

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