More focused than their debut, Church Mouth is still an eccentric collection of rambling grunge created on the fly. It’s rebel-rousing, mind-bending, and inspires an exceptional artistic recklessness.
Portugal. The Man’s greatest strength is, perhaps, their ability to unhinge a song. There’s jazz-style angle to each song, and they’ve integrated that spirit into their alt-rock sound. Most of the tracks on Church Mouth are slightly under four minutes, which gives the band enough time to make each one bumper-car ride without injuring anyone. The opening title track is a crashing, rolling example of the angst-fueled rock, but isn’t just limited to a growl or power chords. It starts off with a fuzzy riff and singer John Gourley’s screech, and rolls into a jam-rock gallop. It’s occasionally intercepted by crashing pauses, pushed by group vocals, and by two minutes in, it’s a low-key, lo-fi front porch stomp. As Gourley has said, this song is a microcosm of the album. "Sugar Cinnamon" is a pumping, distorted jam complete with clapping and organ sounds. "My Mind" is a catchy, cascading alt-ballad that shows they can draw the line between art and rock.
The rest of Church Mouth is psychedelic journey through equally powerful stories and movements. "Dawn" is a semi-delirious jam evoking a strange journey. "Oh Lord" develops that increasingly signature sound even further. "Children" is a forlorn western/blues-style track with haunting vocals, dire guitars, and erratic drums. "Sleeping Sleepers Sleep" is in-the-clouds with backwards effects, eerie organ, and raining drums. There’s an alluring disconnect from the standard rock sound that they’re well on their way to mastering.
Portugal. The Man’s reputation should only increase with Church Mouth. Their sound will intruige an even larger audience, and help push the post-alternative movement further. It’s amazingly creative, yet grounded in several founding elements, such as blues, jazz, and old school rock. It may surprise you how essential it feels.