A tornado touches down in New York City on 42nd Street, sucking up thousands of people. It stays in place and no buildings are damaged, no trees uprooted, no hot dog stands tipped, and unbelievably, no people are hurt. They are thrown about in this whirlwind completely out of the blue, ramming into each other with the circular patterns of a Spirograph. At the tempest’s end, all of the people are sent back to where they were, walking on the sidewalk, hailing cabs, and pondering what just happened.
Extraneous narrative? Of course, but this is one of the best ways to describe Portugal. The Man’s Waiter: “You Vultures!” The very beginning of the album explodes with full force and energy, but doesn’t have much place else to go afterwards, and the songs tend to slowly deconstruct themselves, throwing any predictable pattern out along the way. Waiter: “You Vultures!”, is a very different album, offering a very unique musical experience. High-pitched vocals contrast with harder instruments as opposed to blending into them. In addition, Portugal. The Man does away with the traditional song set up that allows melodies to build to a climax. With so much to experiment with, Waiter: “You Vultures” is an album that is every bit as peculiar as its title might suggest.
Portugal. The Man, made up of John Gourley and Zach Carothers of the broken Anatomy of a Ghost along with Wesley Hubbard and Jason Sechrist, claims the idea for the name of their band came from a desire for a “bigger than life” appeal. Their mission, according to the press materials accompanying the album, was to “create a musical tundra unlike anything anyone has ever heard.” With Waiter: “You Vultures!”, that mission has clearly been realized. This album is challenging for even the most eccentric listener. Their non-traditional song plot and erratic and fluctuating energy output can be only compared to the spectacle of a natural disaster. The track “Goldfronts” is a perfect example of this, and is probably the craziest track on the album, changing from wispy vocals to heavy instrumentals without any provocation. “Chicago” is similar in this aspect. The energy level all over the album is consistently high. It does have many sharp drops, but they do not seem to affect the overall flow. There are songs on the album that do differ from the rest, deviating into more familiar musical realms, most notably “AKA M80 The Wolf” which seems to follow a more traditional song structure.
Waiter: “You Vultures!” is a funky album, to put it bluntly, though not in the James Brown sense of the word. It screws around with well-established musical conventions, arousing many questions about the album. It is an album that should be recommended to everyone for its innovations, but can also be given a warning label for its strange and complex nature. If intrigued, give it a listen, but be warned. If not, well, you’ll be missing out.
At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command
Blonde Redhead – In an Expression of the Inexpressible
Brazil – Daesin