Evil Friends is the seventh full length album from Portland based band Portugal The Man. This five piece originally hailed from Alaska and was formed by principal members John Gourley and Zach Carouthers out of the ashes of the group Anatomy of a Ghost. The band were signed to the independent Fearless Records in 2006 and released five albums on that label before signing to Atlantic in 2010. Their new album has been produced by Danger Mouse (Brian Burton who has produced records for The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley etc).
Evil Friends offers a consistent slice of sonic indie pop, what makes this album stand out is the fact that it's so even, every track stands out some in more overt ways than others. Danger mouse is a producer not afraid to embellish a record, be it with slabs of synth, or a distorted guitar drone, all done against a backdrop of foot tapping melodies. The album seems to have a loose thread revolving around friendships, opening track Plastic Soldiers has a sparse feel lots of electronic loops. Creep in a T-shirt offers a snapshot of despair that could be tied to modern society a sense of hopelessness and dislocation. It's also tied to that idea of friendship and what it means to be isolated from people.
You don't get it
Cause it's the world I'm living in
You don't get it
I'm just a creep in a t-shirt, jeans I don't fucking care
The title track is all jangly guitars and distorted bass it follows along the same line lyrically as Creep in a t-shirt, sharing the lyric
It's not because the light here is brighter
And it's not than I'm evil, I just don't like to pretend
That I could ever be your friend.
The band then leave the electronic behind, embracing the stylings of britpop on Modern Jesus, they continue that stance on the defiant Hip Hop Kids,
Yeah Yeah the punks are tough
But those rock and rollers
All the hip hop kids
think we give a shit
we don;t, we don't
Sea of Air is a change of pace, gentle breezy acoustic folk, Waves takes an angry disillusioned stand on the aftermath of war. Holy Roller stakes it's claim once again in the foundations of brit pop, think along the lines of The Stone Roses etc. Evil Friends is an album that embraces the past, but it captures it and clothes it in something new, with sonic twists and flourishes to add to the reinvention.