American Ghetto

American Ghetto

Portugal the Man keep churning out interesting, smart records where musical genres blithely cross paths and sometimes blissfully merge. Past outings by the Northwest outfit (by way of Alaska) have both howled with bluesy, psych-rock tones and purred with soulful ease; they’ve conjured classic rock and pop, and experimented with electronic toys. Though American Ghetto’s very title implies a turn towards edginess, what we get is actually a smooth amalgam of pretty much everything from the band’s sonic stockpile — and you’ll hear no complaints from us. “The Dead Dog” opens with a languid mélange of guitars and keyboards, and just as it gets its groove on, the brief “Break” serves chopped-up bits of voice and synths, hiccupping a segue into another blissful groove (“60 Years”).  With a fluid, downtempo pulse and lyrical melodies as affecting as any exotic instrument (say, is that a sitar gurgling on “When the War Ends?”), this sunny excursion (think Beck meets Beatles meets Flaming Lips) makes great summer listening. Perhaps a better title would have been American Dream.

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