I never get tired of listening to Evil Friends. Ever since 2013, it’s been a favorite. One thing comes to mind now, though, that goes a long way towards explaining why Portugal. The Man appeals to me so much. It’s that I really like male singers with high voices. It’s pretty unusual and I find it charming. John Gourley’s entire vocal range is full-on falsetto. Not as much as Rhye’s lead singer Milosh, who sounds so much like a woman that it blows away the entire concept of biological gender itself, but Gourley definitely has a uniquely androgynous voice. Without seeing what the group looks like, you could question if the singer is male or female, or even come to the conclusion that there’s one of both. Then you see them and they’re just a bunch of totally average-looking dudes. Like, not even the kind of dudes who think they’re hot edgy rebellious rock stars for wearing eyeliner and earrings. Just a bunch of guys who need to shave better. But, damn, they sound like nothing else.
Going back to the summer of 2013, a great year for music. It must’ve been some kind of serendipity, but I discovered a lot of artists in 2013. There were just so many great songs on the radio, the kind that make you say to yourself, “What is this, I want more!” Portugal. The Man was one of those groups, with some amazingly catchy songs like Modern Jesus and Purple Yellow Red and Blue. The album Evil Friends has become a favorite, a definite keeper, one of those records that you remember an entire decade by. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend it.
Portugal. The Man has quickly become one of my favorite currently active pop groups. Because they play with pop templates in a cheeky way, while still producing ridiculously catchy music. It’s all about euphoric hooks with a lyrical dark side and a little humor. Then, cheekiness and hooks aside, there are some straight-up earnest songs that, unbelievably in this age of irony, are kind of really uplifting. You could never accuse these guys of being schmaltzy, but I can see an army of overly-sincere open-mic troubadours tuning up for their weepy acoustic interpretation of this song. It’s not quite a power ballad, but it builds up for that emotional climax. And I’ll admit that maybe it makes me feel a little twinge of the positive feels, which honestly is nice and kind of hard to come by.
This has to be one of my favorite hits in recent memory. I think about this song when I go to ride the subway. It’s so indelibly catchy and it should have been on every radio on the planet 2013. As it was, it was only on indie radio and most of you probably don’t know Portugal. The Man from Portugal the geographic location. But you should. (They just released a new album a few days ago, which I’ll get back to you on.) The world needs more ironic club kid anthems like this one. It’s upbeat as fuck, but it speaks to The Way We Live Today, or rather a specific subset of young adults whose personal aesthetic and hashtag lifegoals were formed by Paris Hilton’s sex tape. There’s no higher aspiration than a well documented joyless performance of the act of partying. Because Millennials, amirite? It’s a little disturbing and once again begs the question what is reality and is it even worth experiencing without chemical and technological filters?