Okay. There’s no point beating around the bush here. I really don’t like Portugal. The Man. I hate the pretentious period in their name, which would be a stupid name without the superfluous punctuation. I hate their stupid, redundant album title, The Satanic Satanist. And I hate the fact that words like “lovers” and “golden” appear roughly 90,000 times in the space of 11 songs. I don’t really have anything nice to say about The Satanic Satanist and I know you’re inclined to suggest that I say nothing at all because of that. But that cliche imperative could use a 21st century update and that is this: if you don’t have anything nice to say, post it on the internet.
I don’t honestly even remember how I got this album. I read that Stupid. The Band Name was from Portland (which is only partly true – they’re originally from Wasilla, Alaska, a place from whence, thankfully, no other unbearably stupid people have emerged) and I think that prompted me to check them out. I have a great deal of pride in the music that my old hometown is cranking out these days (and no small amount of pride in the fact that my beloved Oregon Ducks just handed the USC Trojans the worst ass whoopin’ of Pete Carroll’s tenure there. I don’t want to rub USC’s noses in it too hard, though – they’ve given Oregon so much already. Like 613 yards of offense. 386 of which came from our tiny, spry quarterback) and so I’m usually willing to check out a Portland band. But Portugal. The Pretentious is giving me reason to revise this strategy.
In many ways, The Redundant Album Title is a prototypical Album I’m Not Going to Like At All. Among its many offenses, it strives to revive the 1970s, or some TV dream of the 1970s, in much the same way Amazing Baby tried to do earlier this year (you’ll remember that I despised them as well). They come off as the kind of people who will futilely argue with me that the Bee Gees were fun and that “Stayin’ Alive” is “catchy.” I don’t care; fuck the Bee Gees. On top of that, Portugal Period The Man traffics in that annoying white-bread funk that was made more popular by Maroon 5. There are several reasons that this is a crime against music and possibly humanity. I’ll just list the first few that come to mind: 1) George Clinton 2) Curtis Mayfield 3) early Stevie wonder 4) As a rule, you should never do anything that Maroon 5 beat you to the punch on. Do you really want to be accused of riding those coattails?
And that’s just off the top of my head.
Also, the best bits on The Satanist (fixed that for you, Portugal. The Repetitive) are sue-ably close in melody and sound to the best bits of MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular, an album I appreciate more and more after hearing shitty bands like Amazing Baby and Portugal The Seriously, I’m Not Putting A Fucking Period After the First Word of Your Stupid Band Name. If Joe Satriani could get a nice settlement from Coldplay over whatever stupid song of theirs (allegedly) ripped off a stupid song of his, MGMT could probably fund their next three albums and tours with the money owed them by PTM. If I had the technology, I’d do a mash-up of PTM’s “The Sun” and MGMT’s “Weekend Wars” that would be particularly instructive. And, what PTM isn’t taking from MGMT’s songbook, they’re taking from Curtis Mayfield’s playbook (you know, the guy who supplied the “People Get Ready” part to Bob Marley’s “One Love/ People Get Ready”. Also, the guy who wrote fucking “Superfly”). If Mayfield were alive today, I imagine “music” like he’d find on The Satanic Satanist would kill him.
Which brings me to perhaps the biggest crime committed by PTM on The Satanic Scientologist (see, that’s at least funny. Did you know Scientologists hate gay people? That’s why the guy who directed Crash left their flock.) is one of prioritizing style over substance to a harmful degree. Now, I’m not saying that substance is better than style – good bands (and artists like the aforementioned Curtis Mayfield) have both. The Clash, a.k.a. the best band ever, welded the two together in a way few bands have been able to manage since. But it seems like, at least lately, a lot of bands are coming out aping their favorite old records without actually saying anything. PTM, for instance, offers this line in the annoyingly repetitive song “Lovers in Love”: “Lovers loving love just like these lovers are loving in love.” Unless you have some odd combination of Autism and Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, that’s just plain lazy and you should either be kicked in the crotch or forced to watch Suzanne Somers blather on about how bad vaccines are for you (I thought about linking to some of that, but that would be cruel). And every other song on this pastiche-and-shit sandwich has that same, lumbering, white-bread funk beat and an annoying, Scissor Sisters-esque falsetto, courtesy of singer John Baldwin Gourley. I propose a new rule, kids: if you use a white-funk falsetto, your song has to be at least as awesome as Beck’s “Debra.” If it isn’t, you’re instantly classifying yourself as a douchebag.
Douche. The Bag’s defenders (assuming they have any) will probably accuse me of taking the band too seriously and say, “They’re just fun, man!” That’s fine. People think that about Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, and Jimmy Buffet too. That doesn’t mean I have to like any of that shit (and, in case you missed where I’m going with this, I don’t). One man’s fun is another man’s torture (not to beat a dead Trojan horse here, but I’m guessing Jeremiah Masoli’s fun last Saturday was not fun for a USC defense that had, until they met the Ducks, allowed just under 80 rushing yards a game) and you’re well within your rights to have “fun” listening to Period. The Used Incorrectly. If you do, however, pray that you never encounter the music of Curtis Mayfield; the experience will illuminate your folly with such blinding clarity that you’ll set fire to your house to get rid of your copy of The Satanic Satanist and the stench that it left there.