Portugal. The Man of Alaska (maybe you did not know that) have intrigued me for some time. I had heard their name in passing several times on the local alternative station, but the intrigue got dialed up a notch when I saw them live in April of 2012. I was there on a press assignment to cover direct support The Lonely Forest on their Jagermeister tour. After a few minutes of watching/listening mesmerized to the flawless falsetto of the band amidst the sea of flashing colored globes onstage, I know I had found something I’d want to come back to.
Evil Friends is one of those records that straddles the line between straightforward fun and the bizarre throughout. One only needs to check out the title track and radio single to figure this out, with it’s sudden tempo and mood change a third of the way through. Shoot, while listening to “Plastic Soldiers” I absentmindedly forgot it was still the same song! “Modern Jesus” is oddly anthemic with its effervescent backdrop of synth beats. Compare this with “Hip Hop Beats” which has a flavor that’s decidedly NOT hip hop. One thing remains constant though – the whole thing is dang catchy. New act Capital Cities is going to have a hard time outshining this record sound wise (they released a record the same day as PTM). But, while Capital Cities are all about celebration, PTM is about pondering a variety of topics while taking a wild ride through alternative pop on LSD. Second single “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” might be the most memorable of them all – urgent clanging of the keys (yes, clanging…I’m not sure how else to describe the sound) rings in a plea of “All I want to do is live in ecstasy, I know what’s best for me…”
Evil Friends ought to appease previous fans of the band while drawing forth new fans. As a relatively new fan myself, I’d say the PTM train is worth jumping on. There’s nothing evil about getting friendly with this record.