Search This Blog

Friday, June 02, 2017

Portugal, The Man -- American Ghetto


I'll be honest: I had a tough time with the music of 2009 and 2010. When I look at my best-of lists for those two years, I see little of anything I've actually listened to since I made them. I'm not a disposable music guy--I come back to the music I like again and again. Seeing with hindsight, I think I was having a tough time coming to grips with the fact that indie-rock had been taken over by the next generation, those blasted millennials (jk, I ♥ u guys), and that, to me, the music didn't rock very much anymore. Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear. The Dirty Projectors, MGMT, FUN--I hated all of it and wanted it to die.
This made me more desperate to like anything else I could find, and in that way, I think I talked my way into liking this 2010 Portugal, The Man album, American Ghetto, way more than I actually did. In many ways, American Ghetto is like The National's High Violet, which came out that very same year, but which, for some reason, I was able to be a bit more honest with myself about--it starts out very interestingly, with a great vibe, and then kind of blurs into a boring, droning, unexciting drag. Let's give this brief review just a bit more background: Portugal, the Man are a rock band from Alaska with a weird coma in their name. They write straightforward, three-minute rock songs. Before American Ghetto, the biggest knock against them was that all their songs sounded the same. All the songs on American Ghetto do not sound the same, but after a fun first half, which introduces a laid-back, dreamy, sort of slacker-rock sound, the band goes into a just under mid-tempo slog where all the songs kind of do sound the same, until the upbeat, disco-flavored "When the War Ends," which makes you wonder why they are only just picking up the pace now, when the album is over, and yes, I get the irony of this sentence in the review of an album whose middle track is titled "Fantastic Pace," and also that this sentence does not have the quality of the title of said song.
With whatever the previous sentence intended said, a 36-minute long album shouldn't struggle to stay interesting. You don't have to do all that much in 36 minutes. You could make a sandwich, then watch an episode of Seinfeld while eating that sandwich. I wish Portugal, The Man had mixed it up more. As it is, I've now reviewed American Ghetto, it is just okay, and I don't think I'll be listening to it again, "The Nicsperiment's 9 Best Albums of 2010" list be damned.

2010 Equal Vision
1. The Dead Dog 3:14
2. Break 0:58
3. 60 Years 4:13
4. All My People 3:12
5. 1000 Years 2:52
6. Fantastic Pace 3:42
7. The Pushers Party 4:23
8. Do What We Do 3:27
9. Just a Fool 3:05
10. Some Men 3:31
11. When the War Ends 3:30


Azure Ides-Grey said...

Yes! It's good to know I'm not the only one seeing the apathy. I'm not entirely anti-indie, but when you're supposed to be a rock band and you don't rock, and there's just no feeling, I have a problem. And that's why I will choose emo over indie nearly every time.

Nicholas said...

Yes, it is almost like they are "too cool" to show some honest emotion. It would elevate the music so much. Also, I can't remember if my use of "coma" instead of "comma" was intentional, or a misprint, but I am going to leave it that way because it is apt!