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REVIEW: Portugal. The Man Find Themselves on Woodstock

Portugal. The Man have been blending together alternative rock and electronic music for years… well before bands such as Imagine Dragons or The Chainsmokers, even hit the scene.

ptm_woodstockNow, four years since their last studio album, Evil Friends, the five-member indie pop band from Wasilla, Alaska, have returned with their sights set on reaching the Billboard music charts.

The band’s eighth full-length studio album, Woodstock, could easily be considered one of their best yet. The project first began in 2014, under the title Gloomin’ + Doomin’, until it was shelved by the band’s lead singer, John Gourley, who, after receiving some sage-like advice from his father, decided to throw out the entire project and start over again from scratch.

After stumbling across his father’s old ticket stub, from the original 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Gourley realized that much like bands from that era, they too felt a need “to speak out about the world crumbling around them.”

With newfound determination, Portugal. The Man, returned to the studio to record 10 all-new tracks with producers John Hill, Danger Mouse, Mike D of the Beastie Boys and longtime collaborator, Casey Bates.

Not unlike the three-day music festival that inspired its title, Woodstock, takes listeners back in time, to the late 1960’s and the days and nights spent at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York.

The opening track, “Number One,” kicks off the album in a similar fashion, with a reimagining of the nearly fifty-year-old performance of “Freedom” by Richie Havens—the song used to open the 1969 rock music festival—also featuring Philadelphia R&B musician, Son Little.

The following track, “Easy Tiger” is an adrenaline-fueled, electronically-tinged pop anthem with an infectious melody and simplistic lyrics that would sound perfect playing over the PA system during any sporting event.

“Feel It Still” was released back in March, and it has already become the band’s biggest mainstream success, landing Portugal. The Man at No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart for the first-time ever. It has since gone on to be featured in commercials and has been getting decent exposure on the radio as well. 

And if that wasn’t enough, the band debuted their latest single, “Real Friends,” earlier in the week with a music video featuring Glenn Howerton from the FXX original comedy series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

The band teams up with a number of interesting guest artists, including rapper Fat Lip of the Los Angeles-based rap group, The Pharcyde, who adds a more “avant-garde” hip-hop sound to the track “Mr. Lonely,” and actress/singer, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is best known for her roles in horror films like 10 Cloverfield Lane and Death Proof, on the track “Noise Pollution.” She also played Ramona Flowers, opposite Michael Cera, in Edgar Wright‘s adaptation of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

Each song is punchier than the last. It’s almost a shame it only wound up being 39-minutes-long, however, Woodstock truly embodies the type of transformation Portugal. The Man have gone through over the last decade and the bright road ahead.

Rating: 5/5

Woodstock, the eighth full-length studio album from alternative rock/indie pop band, Portugal. the Man is available now, from Atlantic Records.

To hear more, be sure to check it out on Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other music streaming services.

Stream: Portugal. The Man Woodstock

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