Free and legal MP3 from Portugal. The Man (well-built, rewarding, forward- and backward-looking rock)

“And I” – Portugal. The Man
     Wasilla, Alaska’s favorite sons (we’ll keep the daughters out of it) return to Fingertips with another indelible shot of at once forward- and backward-looking 21st-century rock. “And I” sways to a 3/4 beat, walking a splendid line between humility and swagger, with the air of some easy-flowing ’70s arena staple, and yet, also, with something firmer, newer, and more hand-crafted in its bones.
     As might be inferred by the curious (and curiously punctuated) name, Portugal. The Man is one inscrutable quartet; like many of today’s introspective indie-rockers, they seem happy enough knowing what they’re doing without much caring whether the rest of us do or not. (Their not-very-clear Wikipedia entry is a good example of this; the reader is left not even knowing what the band’s name actually is, or why.) This inscrutability might be aggravating if the music weren’t so effortlessly well-built and rewarding. “And I” unfolds by adding musical elements you might not realize are necessary precisely when they are, from the intro’s psychedelic organ line to the vaguely gospelly, falsetto backing vocals (first chiming in at 1:14 and 1:28, but keep your ears on them the rest of the way), to the Led Zep-pish blast of squonky guitar at 2:00, to what surely sounds like a cello at 3:49. By the end of this one, as guitars slash and churn against those insistent “ooo-ooo-ooo”s in a windswept landscape that is either triumphant or post-apocalyptic (can’t tell), we have surely been through some kind of epic. Just don’t ask me what any of it was about.
     “And I” is from the CD Censored Colors, which came out last month on the band’s own label, Apprpoaching AIRballoons, in conjunction with the Albany, N.Y.-based indie label Equal Vision Records. MP3 via Equal Vision.

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