Uptonian Thoughts

The Year in Music — Number Eight: The Satanic Satanist by Portugal. The Man

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The Satanic Satanist by Portugal. The Man

I have a bone to pick with Portugal. The Man. The European LP comes packaged in a beautiful and intricate piece of folded and cut cardboard. The US version is just a gatefold. I pre-ordered The Satanic Satanist on vinyl in support of the band, and now I wish I had the “cool version.” Fortunately, the packaging of an album has no bearing on the quality of the music inside. (But seriously, I covet that artwork.)

Satanist is one of those pop rock albums that goes just far enough into left field to pique your interest with every song but stays mainstream enough to make it a hit at any party you host. I was singing along with this album before I even knew the words. The Beatles influences abound here, but where that might be an insult to some (or even many) bands, Portugal. The Man knows how to use their idols for inspiration and not for source material.

Lovers in Love remains my favorite track on Satanist even though there are ten other contenders for the top spot on this eleven track album. Something about John Gourley’s falsetto and the fast-paced wah-guitar and bongos of the chorus just really hits me in the right way. The entire album has this groove to it that mandates that you listen to it as a whole. The cohesion of the songwriting and the musicianship is uncanny. I made mention of the “singability” of this album earlier, but I must repeat it again because it’s so important. You’ll be singing along to Lovers, Everyone is Golden, and The Home before you’ve finished listening to those songs for the first time. I think that’s a sign of a band that really understands the art of songwriting, and these guys certainly aren’t afraid to show off their talent.

It’s been a long time coming, but I think Portugal. The Man is about to become something big. The quintet has already recorded a follow-up to Satanist to be released this coming spring, but this album already goes a long way towards convincing the world that punctuation in medias res is cool again.