(CBS) Pinning down Portgual. The Man is tough. The band has been called psychedelic, which isn't really accurate. The band uses its share of eerie atmospherics (especially on its 2008 release, "Censored Colors"), but none of them recall the summer of love or acid.
There's also the moniker "chamber pop," which may refer to P.TM's fine use of strings, but the point is this: It's more fun to listen to a really good band than it is to figure the band out.
(Scroll down to listen to "Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)")
P.TM has its poppy moments but its sound is based in rock. Then there are the layers of keyboards, vocals and guitars that seem designed to fill the listener's head with as many individual, overlapping sounds as possible.
The arrangements are deft and never weighed down despite a liberal use of instruments and voices; John Gourley's high tenor is a hallmark of the group. On "Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)," different sounds the band has used in each of its recordings seem to coalesce in one song: soaring background vocals, layers of guitars, strings, manufactured beats combined with live drums and a bass that's sometimes meaty and sometimes nimble.
"In the Mountain in the Cloud," Portugal. The Man's sixth album in six years, comes out next week. You can catch them live in San Francisco at Amoeba music on July 20 or in Chicago on Aug. 5 or Aug. 7 (Lollapalooza!). For more information, go to portugaltheman.com.
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