Portugal. The Man keeps their amazing streak of doing something different on each album alive with this '70s drenched, T-Rex meets Electric Light Orchestra, alternative pop masterpiece. Incorporating a little of everything they've done before- progressive jams, folk rock, electro pop- while pushing the boundaries of the studio to new limits, Portugal. The Man has created with "In the Mountain In the Cloud" an inspiring 11 song sequence filled with sing-a-long hooks, catchy riffs, and just enough room for some serious exploration when they take these songs to the stage.
The album opens with the one-two punch of "So American"/"Floating", two tracks seeped in strings and percussion that instantly evokes the studio wizardry of mid-seventies Bowie. "Senseless" soon follows and is drenched in guitar noise, in which lead singer/guitarist John Gourley proves his guitar mastery by doing everything with his six strings but soloing. "Once Was One" starts off sounding like a "Censored Colors" outtake before it evolves into another sweeping, drum-machine driven epic. What may be the best song PTM has ever released, "All Your Light" finds it's roots in "American Ghetto"'s dark second half. Ominous keyboards give way to a pounding drum beat over which Gourley's voice soars, at times playing call and response with the band's almost tribal backing vocals. Then, out of nowhere, the band drops into a seriously tight jam that harkens back to the band's first album, "Waiter: You Vultures!"
Lyrically, the band explores some darker places. Vietnam, politicians, growing old, "So American" is NOT a compliment, "All Your Light" CAN'T save me, and "Sleep Forever", the closing track, ends with the lines "everything is perfectly messed up again". For all the catchy riffs, quirky keyboard noises, and bouncy rhythms, the mood of the lyrics does not seem to be overwhelmingly positive. It is this contrast which makes the album that much more interesting.
It seems that there is something new to discover every time this album is played. If you own headphones, put them on. Portugal. The Man has done an amazing job of creating a sum that is greater than its parts, but to fully appreciate all that went into this album, make sure you find the time to hear all those parts.