Portugal. The Man isn’t afraid to dabble in the political.
The personal is political, and their past work is tinged with their beliefs and opinions.
On 2011’s In The Mountain In The Clouds, Portugal crafted a stadium-sized rock anthem protesting Vietnam with “So American.”
In 2014, Portugal created the dreamy, sadly surreal “Endangered Song [Sumatran Tiger]” single as part of a collaborative effort with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute to save the titular Sumatran Tiger.
It’s been a bit since we’ve heard from Portugal – four years since their Evil Friends LP.
But after a particularly disheartening election, Portugal. The Man gifted us with a refreshing single near the end of 2016.
It’s called “Noise Pollution,” and it’s an intriguing ode to the political static.
Portugal paired a short statement along with the release of the video, writing:
It’s been a rough month y’all.
Not to be dramatic and shit, but there’s a flood of noise right now that feels like it might drown us all. And it’s harder and harder to tell what’s fact, what’s opinion, and what’s just straight up bullshit.
We’re not able to make sense of it, much less tell you how to make sense of it. Thank God there’s music for that. We’ve been working on a new record with your boy Michael Diamond for awhile, but we made a quick stop in Alaska with filmmaker Michael Ragen to shoot this video. Seemed like the right time to show it to you.
We’re in this together.
“Noise Pollution” taps the talents of Zoe Manville (frontman John Gourley’s girlfriend) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (the talented lead actress from 10 Cloverfield Lane).
Perhaps it’s a goofy caricature of today’s youth that aims to satirize with its overly-edgy weed imagery and stupid displays of masculinity. Okay, I’m a bit jealous I can’t do push-ups in raging current.
Whatever its goal, it’s thought-provoking. And that’s what counts.
Ahead of their new LP, they released the remarkably catchy second single “Feel It Still.”
The music video shows John stumbling around for much of the video. It’s a perfect metaphor for Portugal’s thought process now – they’re stunned, disoriented. They’re trying to make sense of an America they really don’t recognize anymore.
Its more overtly political than its predecessor. Near the latter half of the music video, a man burns an “Info Wars” newspaper. It’s worth noting that Info Wars is still pretty pissed about that.
Info Wars correspondent Dan Lyman wrote an article entitled “Pro-Soros Rock Band Burns InfoWars Newspaper in Music Video” with the article slug “Communist rockers demand censorship of alternative media” after the video’s release.
I’m not even joking.
“Feel It Still” is undeniably fun, and arguably the best single from their crop of new tracks.
Recently, Portugal released their third single, “Number One.” It’s electronic and reveals its clean Danger Mouse production. It features Son Little echoing Richie Havens “Freedom 1979,” and it works to great effect.
It’s the most optimistic track we’ve seen from Woodstock, touting lyrics like “you’ll come out alright / I know it seems there’s no end in sight / but it doesn’t mean you can’t put up a fight.”
Alternative artists dabbling in the political isn’t by any means groundbreaking. It’s kind of their brand.
Over the fall, we witnessed a long list of bands collaborating on an anti-Trump project. Father John Misty tried to articulate the current political and social dissonance, to make sense of the static.
But instead of mourning a progressive loss or calculating the aftermath of a truly terrible election, Portugal. The Man makes a rallying cry for rebels everywhere.
From the looks of it, these new tracks are hopeful and aim to inspire.
Woodstock, Portugal. The Man’s eighth album, arrives on June 16.
David Hormell is a soft-spoken junior from Shelbyville. He loves corgis and college radio. He currently serves as the internet director at Rev. One day he’ll come to terms with his Taco Bell addiction, but that day is not today.