Portugal. The Man – Waiter: “You Vultures!”
Release Date: January 24, 2006
Record Label: Fearless Records
Portugal. The Man is quite the enigma. Full of complexities extending beyond the bizarre punctuation used in their name, their debut release is a mix of soft melodies and electronic effects. Abandoning the style of their previous band, Anatomy of a Ghost, (whose spastic live show was remarkable), Portugal. The Man has created a fantastic record that flows together with every ebb and flow of dynamic progression. While the record is not conventionally catchy, it makes an imprint in the might. The vocals are high-pitched without the slightest hint of whine, and the fluctuations in tone are gentle and soothing. It’s not that Waiter: “You Vultures!” is an giant snooze-fest, there are plenty of tracks that offer aggression to vary the pace. Songs like “Marching With 6” and “Chicago” are more up-tempo tracks to prevent the record from ever falling into a pattern. While the majority of this album is slowly paced, there is truly never a dull moment as each track possesses its own unique characteristic that sets it apart from the rest. In “AKA M80 the Wolf,” the backing guitar parts are just as memorable as the actual melody, similar to Minus the Bear's Menos El Oso. As vocalist John Gourley croons “What a proud, proud man” towards the end of the track, a haunting keyboard pattern and guitar lick wedge themselves permanently into memory.
Other tracks are accented by guest vocals, most notably back to back tracks “Marching With 6” and “Elephants.” Both songs feature guest vocals from Nic Newsham (Gatsby’s American Dream), who meshes in perfectly with the songs. His performance at the end of “Elephants” is raw, passionate, and caps off a mainly acoustic song with a Latin flavor to it. Despite featuring no traditional percussion for the majority of the song, “Elephants” is one of the more danceable tracks on the record, of which there are many. The second half of the record begins to feel around and explore some more, experimenting with electronic effects and progressively weirder melodies. The album does lose some steam after “Chicago,” and it’s clear that the first half of this record, albeit more accessible, is a lot stronger. The last few tracks fade off into the distance without leaving a lasting impression.
Portugal. The Man’s debut release is a fantastic release with solid lasting value. While some people may immediately compare this band to The Blood Brothers because of the vocals, don’t believe the hype. The vocals are high, but in control and inexplicably memorable. Perhaps the closest comparison would be Circa Survive, with their loosely defined music and free-flowing vocals. Casey Bates does a fantastic job behind the knobs once again. The production and mixing fits this band perfectly, letting the music do the talking without overpowering anything. The electronic effects are integrated expertly into songs, and the result is a unique sound that can only be associated to Portugal. The Man. Waiter: “You Vultures!” is already one the best albums released in 2006. Pick up this release today to ensure you don’t forget about this exceptional band.