Portugal. The Man

Church Mouth

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    7
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Church Mouth -- Portugal. The Man's second album -- is a dense hard rock collection on which singer/songwriter John Gourley wails in a high-pitched tenor, sometimes rising to falsetto over the rough, frequently changing rhythms of bassist Zach Carothers and drummer Jason Sechrist. The band's sound recalls Led Zeppelin on occasion, although the closest antecedent is early Jane's Addiction, not only in the clashing sounds of the instruments, but also in Gourley's vocal similarity to Perry Farrell. Gourley actually employs overlapping voices, sometimes in harmonies and countermelodies, with Carothers and Sechrist joining in. His lyrics are hard to make out much of the time, largely because of the mix and the arrangements, but also because he rarely phrases for meaning; the songs sound like they began as rhythm tracks, with the words added only at the end and fitted in over the music. A lyric sheet was provided (at least with advance review copies of the album) but making sense of what Gourley is trying to say is no easier by actually reading the words. There's plenty of religious and nature imagery, and plenty of references to the South (of course, if you're from Alaska, as Gourley is, the entire continental U.S. is south of you), but not much in the way of literal meaning. Consider "Shade," which begins, "claims, they crawled from those clouds and/over mountains cried/into the streams where they ran the length of/past and time that called out/with their hands beside you as all the people/shouted up to the/'northern' territories." This is an album with a lot of lyrics, but most of them are like this example, seemingly stream-of-consciousness impressions expressed in run-on sentences.

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