Portugal. The Man

Waiter: "You Vultures!"

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    5
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Waiter: "You Vultures!" is an album decidedly of its time. Its pretentious title, punctuated as if ripped from a screenplay, should give most listeners an idea of what to expect. The album sees Portugal. The Man suffering or benefiting from an identity crisis. They seem unable to determine if they want to be a fractured art rock ensemble à la Blonde Redhead and Shudder to Think, a dance-oriented electro-indie act like Tahiti 80 and Phoenix, or a progressive-minded mood merchant like the Notwist. Along the way, piano ballads and screaming rants intersect, as the band rocks and stumbles like an uneasy mix of the aforementioned bands, crafting frequently catchy songs that rarely manage to satisfy. John Baldwin Gourley offers mostly pleasant 1970s dance vocals, but he constantly undercuts himself by affecting an ineffective falsetto. The falsetto combines with murky song structures and unconvincing dynamics to make for what some may find a terminally unhip listen. When Portugal. The Man stick to mellow post-rock, it's somewhat smooth if bland sailing, but they unfailingly take themselves too seriously. "Chicago," for instance, attempts aggression and features a cringe-worthy chorus of "Burn this motherfucker down" that alternates with passages of near balladry. Mingling in genres that are past their prime and not adding anything original or distinctive to the mix, Portugal. The Man try too hard and mimic too many better bands on Waiter: "You Vultures!" -- and the result is merely mediocre.

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