Church Mouth

Church Mouth

Portugal The Man’s sophomore effort, Church Mouth, feels a little like the band started taking steroids and listening to old Uriah Heep records. This is a good thing. Any experimenting with electronics and downtempo groovyness is gone, and in its place are hard-edged guitars and walls of sound. Tracks like “Telling Tellers Tell Me” and “Bellies Are Full” have the brawny howl of the White Stripes and ancestral relations like Led Zeppelin, full of noisy tambourines, foot stompin’ percussion and dirty guitars, and John Gourley’s voice — clearly made for rock — taking things into the red. Gourley is also fully capable of more refined pop nuance (“My Mind,” “Sun Brother”) and soulful seduction (“Shade,” “Sugar Cinnamon”). The title track is stellar, with keyboards and guitars swooping in a muscular but melancholy fashion, Gourley’s vocals (mewling something about a “dirty old church mouth”) tightly intertwined with the hip-swaying melody. There is so much going on here, it takes a couple of undistracted listens to really appreciate the range of genres PTM are filtering. As culturally hungry teenagers in small-town Alaska, one can imagine the music they must have taken in as nourishment ... music well digested.

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