Portugal. The Man - Church Mouth
Every avid Portugal the Man fan has undoubtedly gone through their Church Mouth phase, myself included. While each album they release sees them change and evolve in ways that make a former album almost incomparable to the “latest and greatest,” there is no use in denying the staying power of Church Mouth.
The album starts off with the self-titled track and gets the gritty, dirty feeling guitar out in the open without much hesitation. This feeling is maintained through the next three tracks, but in my opinion, the album truly starts to pick up at the fourth track, “My Mind.” Now, by ‘pick up,’ I’m not talking about the album getting super fast paced or posi or hardcore. Nothing like that, merely just that by the fourth track,Portugal starts really getting into the meat of this album. Everything slows down a bit and creates some room for ambience, well led and guided by the insatiably high, almost creepy voice of John Gourley. Church Mouth sees Gourley and his backing talent flourish with harmonies that you simply just don’t hear that often. I’ve never heard a voice such as Gourley’s in Church Mouth and doubt I ever will. Each groovy lick comes right out of the picking hand of Pentatonic scales and blues progression. By the end of the album, most notably “Sleeping Sleepers Sleep,” PTM moves into almost complete ambient obscurity, exhausting all the soul they had left in that recording booth. Overall, Portugal the Man truly perfected what blues can become in this new era with Church Mouth.
One of Portugal the Man’s crowning achievements, Church Mouth is an album that will remain prevalent in their catalogue for a long time to come. Church Mouth is probably the album that I would put on if I wanted to introduce someone to Portugal the Man for the first time as it does well to display, for the most part, what Portugal the Man is all about as a band: grit, blues, dirt, soul, with a pinch of nonsensical lyric!
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