2017, Music

Woodstock (2017) by Portugal. The Man

I listened to Portgual. The Man’s 6th (and apparently most acclaimed) album, In the Mountain in the Cloud, years ago and did not like it. I have very little memory of it and barely wrote a review. I also saw them live during NXNE once. I liked them more live but still didn’t enjoy them. But this album does not sound like the band I (barely) remember.

I’ve heard “Feel It Still,” of course. I live under a rock but not that big a rock. I had no idea it was Portugal. The Man in part because it doesn’t match by vague memories of In the Mountain in the Cloud.

Fans seem to hate this record. Even though it was 2017 and the idea of selling out seems to have mostly died among music fans, it apparently hasn’t completely died. Read fan reviews of this record and you will see that accusation thrown around a bunch. And you can understand why: this feels both poppy (at least on the big hit and some other tracks) and very contemporary in terms of the production. Whatever else I thought of them the last time, I didn’t think they were trend-hopping. But it sure seems like that’s what they are doing now. (Apparently the band knew this was going to happen and had t-shirts made about how they sold out.)

So I’m not really sure what to do here. I didn’t like this band to begin with, based on only one album, and I don’t love this. But this feels at least a little creative and doesn’t remind me of that original band I didn’t like so, um, I think that’s growth?

That being said, I’m listening to some music from 2017 right now and it’s notable how much similar this sounds to a lot of it, not necessarily in the songs themselves, but the recording, the use of certain types of sample, the pitch-shifted vocals, the overall mix. These guys are a band but they only sound like a band some of the time, as the band is often buried beneath samples, loops and the like.


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