Portugal. The Man

Church Mouth

[4.5]



Church Mouth abandons the blueprint Portugal. The Man perfected on their 2006 debut Waiter: “You Vultures!” for a deeper art-rock bombast more in keeping with Led Zeppelin’s middle period, a seismic shift that suits John Gourley’s vocals to a T. His voice hits like the missing link between the overheated wail of early Robert Plant and the haunting, ethereal grace of Thom Yorke at his most emotionally direct. But as arresting as those vocals are-from the aching falsetto that eases you into the opening track to the sexier blues-rocking swagger of cuts like “Sugar Cinnamon”-he’s not the only force at play. Zach Carothers proves there’s no such thing as playing twice as many notes as necessary (as long as you know what you’re doing), while drummer Jason Sechrist underscores the majesty of damn near every track with a Bonzo-esque command that leaves you wondering how they ever settled for drum machines and sequencers the last time out. And Gourley’s no slouch on guitar, either. But it’s the songs themselves that truly set this band apart; an inspired collection of freshly minted art-rock classics that never sacrifice the rock in that equation for the type of wankery that would have earned the band more high fives on the prog-revival circuit. (FEARLESS) Ed Masley


ROCKS LIKE:

Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy

Radiohead’s OK Computer

The White Stripes’ Elephant