Chuck Klosterman once made a convincing argument that pop culture constitutes a more significant art form than the more adventurous, intellectually stimulating creations of those who sacrifice popularity for their original artistic vision. What good is art, he argues, if nobody experiences it? That proposition takes things a bit farther than necessary in the case of Portugal. The Man, a band that has always been willing to indulge pretty much any musical flight of fancy. The Portland-via-Alaska group has made a consistent habit of being inconsistent, taking a playful mix-and-match approach to genre identification. Portugal's spirit of adventure runs deep, but the band's penchant for experimental structures and willy-nilly stylistic leaps also makes it a hard sell for mass appeal. On its last release, the band sidestepped a lot of those hurdles, making an album as straightforward as previous albums were intentionally abstruse, a gamble which no doubt chafed as many old fans as it courted new ones. The real test will come packaged with this tour, in the form of PTM's newest album, American Ghetto.
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