Woodstock, Portugal. The Man’s eighth album, arrives four years after the band’s previous full-length, Evil Friends. It finds the band adding a new Top 40 element to its psych pop-rock sound and featuring a variety of sounds and guests, including Fat Lip, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, & Zoe Manville as well as producers John Hill, Danger Mouse, Mike D, and longtime collaborator Casey Bates.
A trip to visit family inspired the album in title and content. While in Alaska, Portugal. The Man’s lead singer, John Gourley, found his father’s Woodstock ticket stub. The discovery put an idea in Gourley’s head, he needed to speak up about the dire state of the world. Woodstock is the product of that realization.
Appropriately, the album opens with a sample from Richie Havens’ performance of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” at the 1969 festival before continuing into the first verse. Lead single “Feel It Still” and its “rebel just for kicks” narrator is more overtly political and full self-aware. Its cluelessly rebellious narrator talks a good game, but is ultimately shown to be complacent and nostalgic. Musically, it’s a well-crafted, danceable pop single thanks in large pop to its hip-hop influenced rhythm section.
As the band describes it, album closer “Noise Pollution” tries to reconcile “the difference between what the modern world promised us and what we got.” In a post on Facebook sharing the song’s official video, they noted “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.”
With its big, flashy hooks, punchy rhythms, and multitude of collaborators, Woodstock takes Portugal. The Man’s sound in a more commercial direction to great effect.
Portugal. The Man’s Woodstock is out now through Atlantic Records and is available on Amazon, iTunes, and the band’s online store.