Monday, January 7, 2019

100 Albums: "Evil Friends" by Portugal. The Man

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Portugal. The Man
Title: Evil Friends
Released: 2013
Genre: indie alt-rock (as produced by Danger Mouse)


As one might guess from a rock group who put a period in the middle of their name, Portugal. The Man are big on weirdness for its own sake. For this album, the Alaska-natives collaborated with art-house mega-producer Danger Mouse, best known (probably) for being the member of Gnarls Barkley who wasn't CeeLo. Did this collaboration work?

Reader, it did. Danger Mouse's hip-hop-but-vintage sound and sensibilities temper PtM's more out-there impulses to great effect. What results is an album that is off-kilter and driving, but still catchy and groovy. The sparse arrangements give the music room to breathe--much more so than you typically associate with a rock act--and every single song on this record is an ear-worm, none so much as the infectious title track.

There is not an ounce of fat on this record. There are no extended outros; there aren't even unnecessary measures to get a break to four bars. Even at nearly fifty minutes--long by 2013 standards--the album still manages to feel tight and taut. It never meanders or kills time. It's just a great listen from start to finish.

Further Listening: The much-delayed follow-up Woodstock contains PtM's only other (to my knowledge) collaboration with Danger Mouse, the monster radio hit Feel It Still. The rest of the album is good, but veers more into dreamwave and wall-of-sound territory. It took a few spins to really get under my skin, whereas I was in love with Evil Friends from the first chorus. They have maybe half a dozen albums before EF, but nothing I've heard from those records stood out.

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