PB&Jams: Portugal. The Man

By Samantha Webster, The Dartmouth Staff | 5/6/14 5:00am

I hesitate to write a column about Portugal. The Man. Not because you won’t like them (although that’s possible) and not because they put a period in the middle of their band name (they did). But I hesitate for two reasons: one, they’ve put out more music than I can even begin to keep up with, and two, I’m not cool enough.

To clarify my first point, the band released their seventh album last June. That’s just a hell of a lot of music.

Some may think my second point needs no clarification (“Not cool, you say? Yes, we know.”). But to explain my reasoning here, you’d have to know that I spent my favorite summer sharing music with one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. I played him Manchester Orchestra, and he played me Portugal. The Man.

I can’t even pretend to understand the group nearly as well as he does, nor do I have nearly as solid a music taste, but I’ll attempt to tackle at least some of the band’s latest album, which is called “Evil Friends.” If you like it at all, you should check out some of their older stuff. A personal favorite of mine is “All Your Light,” off the 2011 album “In the Mountain in the Cloud.” Or check out the 13-minute music video for “Sleep Forever” off the same album, which features enchanting footage of the Alaskan landscapes the band calls home.

If I could talk about every song on “Evil Friends” without having you flip back to your Facebook tab, I would. But in the interest of time, check out these two songs.

“Modern Jesus"

“Modern Jesus” was the first song off this album that got me hooked. It’s astoundingly catchy and sounds like the anthem for the group of friends you wish you were a part of. The lyrics are a proclamation of living free:

Who cares if hell awaits
We’re having drinks at heaven’s gate

And a chorus that’ll stay with you day and night:

Don’t pray for us
We don’t need no modern Jesus
To roll with us
The only rule we need is never
Giving up
The only faith we have is faith in us


“Waves” is a chilling masterpiece that builds from an instrumental intro to a pounding chorus:

No one cares about the waves
At the bottom of the ocean
At the bottom of the ocean
It’s always blue
No one will remember
‘Cause nothing lasts forever
And everybody’s looking
For somebody to use

If you’ve taken ENVS 15, you know that people actually do care about the waves at the bottom of the ocean — it’s called thermohaline circulation — but let’s not let that get in the way. Listen here.

For more songs off the album check out the music videos for “Evil Friends” here and “Atomic Man” here.

Samantha Webster, The Dartmouth Staff