Portugal. The Man "Censored Colors" Review

Originally published in the OCCC Pioneer on August 30th, 2008.

Alaska isn’t exactly known as a musical goldmine. Apparently, the state’s frozen woods and arctic tundra aren’t quite apt for great bands — except for experimental rock band Portugal. The Man.

The band’s third album, “Censored Colors,” is decidedly more low-key than the band’s previous work. Its slow pace meanders through the album’s 15 tracks.

But even with the new direction, the band manages to keep its signature sounds intact. The quirky approach and diverse instrumentation the band is known for are all here in spades.

Even the simpler, more acoustic-based songs are densely layered with strings, piano, rich vocal harmonies and a variety of other elements.

The band touches on a variety of musical styles on the album. The opener, “Lay Me Back Down,” is spacey and very much prog rock, while “Hard Times” brings to mind stoner rock bands like Black Mountain or Kyuss.

The album’s centerpiece, “New Orleans,” is a jazzy number that wouldn’t be out of place in some Bourbon Street club.

That song also continues the trend set by “Chicago” on the band’s debut “Waiter: You Vultures” in which the best song on the album is named after a city.

The album closes with the reggae style gang vocals of “Our Way,” which leaves the listener on a very positive, upbeat note.

The album was released on the band’s own record label, Approaching AIRball-oons, and is distributed by Equal Visions Records.

Fans who only liked the heavier, high-energy material on Portugal’s previous albums may be disappointed in “Censored Colors,” but for everyone else, it’s an exceptional piece of work that is a strong contender for album of the year.